Top 6 IT Service Contract Survival Tips for When the Customer Is Wrong
If your company focuses on small business technology adoption, most of your clients are likely on long-term IT service contracts. While 100% client retention is an admirable goal, it may not always be possible. Why?
“The customer is always right.” Maybe not. Sometimes the customer is wrong – very wrong. The most common incident is a complaint about poor service, but service that was completely outside the scope of your IT service contract. What do you do?
The time to deal with that is in advance.
The Sales Call: “We measure ourselves on customer satisfaction and prefer to work with clients who will do the same.” Lay the groundwork for a formal customer satisfaction measurement program.
Negotiating Terms: “Will the customer satisfaction review be every week or every other week?” Assume that it will happen. Put it in the contract. Keep records of the meetings.
Implementation: Offer the company’s tech staff a chance to participate in your firm’s education program. If you don’t have one, start one. This is a value-add for the customer and a chance for you to pass on information about the realities of IT service outsourcing in general, and IT service contracts in particular.
Stop Watching the Clock: One of the world’s largest computer services firms found to its surprise that “wasting” an extra 30 seconds on every in-person contact with client employees paid off. Commiserate with the employee’s problem, give her your card and tell her to call if it doesn’t get done right. Thirty seconds per contact. Two hundred contacts per week. That’s an hour and 40 minutes. Formal complaints dropped by five per week. Each formal complaint consumed six hours of the service company’s time.
Pick Your Battles: Some people can never be pleased. It may seem that most of them work for companies that have IT service contracts with your firm. Don’t get defensive until you have to.
When You Are Right, Shout It Out: Behind closed doors, quietly, with the most senior client representative. Make it clear that you do not wish to embarrass the client employee who has unjustly claimed poor service. The implication is that you do have it in your power to embarrass that employee. Offer to help the client representative educate his or her employees.
Owners of small IT companies often think the end-goal of IT service contracts is 100% satisfaction. Don’t beat yourself up over perfectionism. Sometimes you just have to accept 85% or 95% customer satisfaction…becomes sometimes, the customer is wrong.
What’s been your experience with customer satisfaction for long-term contracts? Please share your tips, hints, and war stories in the Comments below.
Creative Commons Image Source: flickr Gene Hunt