The importance of the customer experience in an industry that is not typically known for its warmer customer focus is the reason why former Dell CIO, Jerry Gregoire, called the customer experience “the next competitive battleground.” There are a number of reasons why customer service is crucial to the success of any business, but particularly in the Information Security industry.
The level of care put toward gaining trust and confidence, of adherence to time-sensitive interactions, and maintaining a level head during the many intricate aspects that this work environment often calls for, are what will set your company apart from the rest. Focusing on the customer experience is an all-encompassing company job description, not something enforced by only a few customer-facing departments. A company’s culture and the vision and driving force of the entire team should be focused on making engagements the better part of your customer’s day.
So how is this accomplished? What are some of the key qualities of positive customer interactions?
Establishing interpersonal relationships
Every company has its own particular set of needs, and there is no “one size fits all” when discovering what is best for your customer. Establishing a strong interpersonal relationship with your customer is crucial in understanding which service best fits their desired solution. The various levels of compliance and every particular nuance will determine how each situation should be approached.
We respect everyone’s time and efforts, so the first point of approach is developing those interpersonal relationships. What we are working to establish is a true partnership with our customers to understand their organizational needs and goals. You may be faced with a customer who is unaware of what they need to improve their organization’s security posture, so actively listening and asking the right questions will help paint the best picture.
The table-top meetings and company presentations are not the only place to gain this important information: information gathering happens during every conversation, whether it is part of a larger meeting or a small talk over lunch. Additionally, your teams should be sharing these conversations with other customer contacts, as every department “cross-pollinates” within the organization’s overarching ecosystem. We are looking to develop a sense of ownership for our customers, a joined partnership that brings our teams together towards a long-term, collaborative goal.
Communication is key
Good communication is key to building and maintaining strong relationships with your customers. There are many different types of communication; for our purposes, we will stick to the art of active verbal communication that includes (but not limited to) response time and feedback.
I believe that all communication is time sensitive. Although we tend to put the hottest perceived issues on the front burners, it’s a good practice to treat every communication as needing the same time and care. Even if the communication is just an acknowledgement of receipt in the middle of an emergency. As a matter of professional courtesy and in the spirit of professional business etiquette, the best practice is, at the very least, to let our customers know they are being heard and that we are working toward an answer.
Feedback and response
Surveys are one of the most popular ways to get a “how are we doing?” response and feedback from our customers. There are also more direct and timely methods of communication, such as periodic emails or calls to actively seek feedback from the customer on anything they like or dislike about their service or engagements. I like to let our customers know from the beginning and throughout their time with our company that feedback at any time is welcomed as a way for us to grow and improve our services. Positive and negative specific feedback is a great way to not only strengthen your team, but also deepen your relationship with your customers. Let the customer know that their feedback is taken seriously, and even how it positively effects your organization’s service and delivery.
Although we tend to put a strong emphasis on customer communication, internal communication is just as important to the customer experience. Internal communication will only strengthen the team, but it will also create a unified message and presentation for our customers.
Ownership and the Bigger Picture
As the industry subject matter experts, we should be the first and primary point of contact for our customers’ questions and concerns. This all comes back to the importance of communication, both internally and externally, as we build a feeling of ownership with our customers. There is a partnership that develops through interpersonal relationships, and strong communication brings the teams together to find common ground and move toward a common goal.
We should establish ourselves as confident resources on whom customers know they can rely for recommendations and service knowledge. Researching the latest security trends, maintaining awareness with the evolving global cyber security threats, and establishing a strong relationship with the customer will allow for a deeper relationship to their particular environment. Providing the highest level of service and success depends on the efforts of every member of the team. A positive, can-do attitude. dependable support and good communication, and a willingness to stand with the customer as a unified team, , is the recipe for a consistently great customer experience.