How to improve your customer service skills
Most of our staff members are pretty good at customer service skills. We carry out all our project executions with equal enthusiasm and efficiency irrespective of who the customer is. But only a handful of customers consider us as a most favoured vendor. These customers will first ask us for a piece of advice if they need anything related to IT services, digital surveillance or point of sale solutions. All others will consider all other options as well, including us. I decided to investigate the reason for this. After all, we do our jobs with equal competence for all our customers.
My findings for the reason were mind-boggling. The first point that I found was, your attitude towards your job gives you that extra edge over your competitors. Attitude is as important as your technical competence and efficiency. Of course, they were happy with the result but there was more to it. We have unknowingly crossed that extra mile in their projects and the funny thing was that we were not even aware of that. I will try to clarify my points by giving a few examples. We had this client who had a flash white house. He wanted a few cameras installed. One camera location was such that we needed to use a piece of wood to install the camera on the wall. We partially completed the job on day 1 and decided to complete the rest the next day. On day 2, we completed the job at around 3 PM and were waiting for the customer to explain how the whole system works. While waiting, one of my technicians said; “Don’t you think this yellowish peace of wood is looking so ugly on his flash white house?”. I agreed and then we thought, instead of waiting and doing nothing, why don’t we buy white spray paint and paint the piece of wood. We purchased a small can of white spray paint and painted the wood.
The customer arrived, went through the system and he was happy with the overall digital surveillance system that we had sold to him. I sent the invoice to this man and he replied saying. “Your invoice has been cleared and by the way, wooden piece under the camera matches very well with rest of the house”. I was startled. After procuring such a sophisticated system and brilliant camera pictures, what he is mentioning is the beauty of that painted wooden piece under the camera! Then and there, I understood the game. Actually, providing and installing the system was our job and he paid for that. However, he considered spraying that white paint over the wooden piece something extra and it showed our meticulous attitude which impressed him. I am sure he would have not minded that piece of wood if it were not painted but that is what made all the difference to us. It was something like crossing that extra mile which made all the difference.
I can recall another example of crossing that extra mile and this happened in the corporate world. We got a fairly large order where one of the PTZ cameras needed to have “Auto tracking feature”. We completed the project but when we were commissioning the system, we realized that to configure auto-tracking function, a special PTZ Keyboard is required. This keyboard costs approximately $500 and it was not included in the proposal. I informed the concerned person about it and he said that the keyboard is too expensive and they can manage without an auto-tracking function. In the meantime, I came to know that one of the companies in Christchurch has this keyboard. I asked them if I can borrow their keyboard for a week and they agreed.
I used their PTZ keyboard to configure an auto-tracking function. On the day of the final hand over, I demonstrated the functioning of the overall system and they noticed that the auto-tracking was working on PTZ camera. He casually asked me; “but I was under impression that it can’t be configured without PTZ keyboard?” I said “Oh! I was able to borrow one from one of my friends.” That created the magic. Now, the whole company is our fan and we are the first to be called if they have any technological issue. So here also, it was not about technology or intelligence but the attitude towards completing a job. Although they would have not minded if we had not configured the system the way it was designed initially, they were impressed that we crossed that extra mile to do something which was not essential.
Thus the moral of the story is, your technical expertise and competence are important but it is all about the attitude that takes your customer service skills to the next level and differentiates you from your competitors.