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Customer Service Skills: Are you willing to cross that extra mile?

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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 the customer. 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. I decided to investigate the reason for this. After all, we do our jobs with equal competence for all our customers.

Customer Service SkillsMy findings, for a 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 one and decided to complete the rest the next day. On day 2, we completed the job at around 3 PM and waited for the customer to explain how the whole system works. While waiting, one of my technicians said, “Don’t you think this yellowish piece 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 was happy with the overall digital surveillance system we had sold to him. I sent the invoice to this man, and he replied saying. “We have cleared your invoice, and by the way, the wooden piece under the camera matches very well with the rest of the house”. I was startled. After procuring such a sophisticated system and brilliant high-resolution cameras, he mentions the beauty of that painted wooden piece under the camera! Then and there, I understood the game. 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 not have minded that piece of wood if we didn’t paint it, but that is what made all the difference to us. It was something like crossing that extra mile that made all the difference.

I can recall another example of crossing that extra mile, which happened in the corporate world. We got a reasonably large order where one of the PTZ cameras needed an “Auto tracking feature”. We completed the project, but when we were commissioning the system, we realized that a unique PTZ Keyboard is required to configure the auto-tracking function. This keyboard cost approximately $500, which didn’t include in the proposal. I informed the concerned person about it, and he said that the keyboard is too expensive and can manage without an auto-tracking function. In the meantime, I learned that one of the companies in Christchurch has this keyboard. I asked them if I could borrow their keyboard for a week, and they agreed.

I used their PTZ keyboard to configure an auto-tracking function. On the final handover day, I demonstrated the functioning of the overall system, and they noticed that the auto-tracking was working on the PTZ camera. He casually asked me, “but I was under the impression that I can’t configure 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 the original installers designed it 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 essential. Still, it is all about the attitude that takes your customer service skills to the next level and differentiates you from your competitors.

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