That is what employees at Chic-fil-A are supposed to say to complete a transaction. When I close my eyes and imagine someone uttering those two words, I picture an inviting face with a warm smile. That phrase has transcended the Chic-fil-A culture and become a staple of the brand.
But this wasn’t something Chic-fil-A always did; they shifted their culture because they wanted to create a unique experience where the customer knew their patronage was valued. Chic-fil-A understood that quality service was a competitive advantage, and customers were the best brand ambassadors. In IT, customer service can look and feel a little different, but I would argue there are more similarities than there are differences. With technology constantly evolving hand over fist, customer service and the overall customer experience should, as well.
In this article, I want to highlight three areas where IT organizations can evolve their service delivery to shift their customer service to become a customer experience.
1. Understanding Who Your Customers Are
Organizations historically have only viewed those individuals they had direct contact with as the customer, but a culture shift needs to happen to not miss the networked connections of the expanded customer pool. Those individuals on the other side of the phone often have their own customers. Instead of focusing on the direct task at hand to address and resolve their concern, we can inject value by understanding the ultimate goal they are trying to achieve for their customers. Their customers could be clients, other businesses, patrons, friends, and family. Understanding how your customers serve others and aiding in that journey completes the value chain and brings long-lasting positive impressions and lifelong customers.
2. Understanding What Your Customers Want
We are in a digital economy where attention and loyalty have become currency. In order to retain it, you have to have a good pulse on what customers want. In IT, the answer is pretty elementary - people want fast systems, available all the time, that makes their life easier.
Reliable and available systems - that is easy to produce and measure. Systems that make life easier - that is the challenge. We find that our systems are trying to collect so many data points that we make the process cumbersome before we can even start to identify what the customer wants. One thing we know for sure is that when something is not right, people don’t want to fill out surveys and enter a bunch of data into a phone or app before anyone even starts to understand what their problem is. When our systems are focused at capturing data instead of delivering a customer experience, our focus isn’t on driving value to the customer; our focus is collecting data for our company. Both are important, but keeping happy customers coming back is always a winning strategy.
When organizations do a deep dive to truly understand their customers, they must also understand how their customers want to be served as part of the value chain. How customers interact and interface on various platforms and mediums is just as important as who they interface with and if their problems were resolved. We in IT have to be conscious to understand value is the destination, but also the journey.
Dr. Alma Miller is an enthusiastic entrepreneur, speaker, DevOps thought leader, and educator with over 15 years of experience in the IT industry. She obtained a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from Catholic University, a Masters in Electrical Engineering from George Washington University, a Masters in Technical Management from Johns Hopkins University, and a Doctorate in Engineering from George Washington University. She started her consulting company, AC Miller Consulting, in 2013. Since then, AC Miller has provided services to government and commercial clients across multiple industries helping with ITIL and DevOps transformations. Dr. Miller speaks at industry conferences and events and teaches graduate courses for Johns Hopkins and University of California Irvine. She is the co-creator of the BVE Summit, a conference for entrepreneurs and business owners. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn.