It’s a fact that sourcing new customers combined with opening new markets are essential pillars to any organization’s growth. However, keeping and growing existing customers is the life blood of any organization. You can contract all the new business in the world, but if that business is not managed and maintained effectively, you can expect to see a sharp decline in planned monthly revenue.
Couple poor client management with today’s liberal use of social media, and you can quickly envision how customer perceptions socialized via online reviews have become more valuable than ever for enabling growth. Consumers tend to share their stories and interactions on social media. Their word-of-mouth marketing can be especially valuable and/or harmful to your overall business success. Consequently, it’s clear that improving your customer loyalty and associated corporate image will drive long term success.
Step back for a moment and ask yourself, what are you doing to cultivate customer loyalty within your own organization? When was the last time you personally focused on making your customers feel appreciated? Many might argue that the focus on customer appreciation isn’t just a best practice, it’s the difference between success and failure within our social media driven economy.
Here are five ways you can leverage IT management services to improve customer loyalty:
I. Provide 24×7 Remote IT Operations Support
Like it or not, we are a global economy operating 24×7. What effects Europe, Africa and Asia, also affects your organization. To be a market leader, you need to operate and respond globally to meet your internal and external client demands. Often times, customer loyalty is severely impacted once a client incident occurs – they come to you for help, and you are simply unable to react and deliver upon your SLA promises. In a client’s mind, you are only as good as your last service call. Ask yourself, am I truly able to deliver my services 24×7, and on a global scale?
Operating a true 24×7 remote IT operations center enables your organization to provide centralized, around the clock monitoring and management of your internal and external customers’ IT infrastructure. This includes all servers, storage, network, security, power and cooling, and the all-important business services and applications. Additionally, consider partnering with a Managed Services Provider to potentially help your organization fill gaps and holes within the service delivery organization.
II. Improve IT Visibility
The central goal of every organization is centralizing all current operations and services into a single pain-of-glass view, supported by a single point-of-contact for all IT delivery and operations. Unfortunately, like many of your peers, you have made so many diverse OEM purchases that it’s operationally too difficult to make this a reality. An organization’s platform, vendor, and business application choices almost always necessitate maintaining multiple views and multiple points-of-contacts. It’s this diversity of technology that can inhibit your ability to achieve a completely integrated picture of all IT activity.
Getting to the golden single pain-of-glass view is possible, but it usually requires out-of-the-box thinking, skilled integration, and customization efforts to make it a reality. Ask yourself does my team have the technical depth and skills required to undertake such an effort? Or should I leverage a Managed Services Provider to implement my desired solution? By leveraging a Managed Services Provider, they can help implement, monitor and manage your entire on premise and cloud-based infrastructures from a single proactive framework. You will be the first-to-know when an outage occurs, and then you can proactively notify your customers before they begin calling you.
III. Improve Customer Response Times
The speed at which your organization responds is the clearest indication of your service delivery capability; or lack thereof. The longer it takes you to respond to a situation, the poorer your client’s overall perception of your IT organization. IT response times are built upon visibility and industry standard processes and procedures that have been thoroughly vetted by thousands of IT organizations. Ensure your whole IT program is well versed and certified in the common IT industry standards like ITILv3, ISO 9001, ISO 27001, etc. Standardization helps your IT team collaborate effectively and understand their specific roles and responsibilities.
Implementing industry standard best practices ensures your organization is staffed with experienced engineers that are committed to providing quality solutions, to all your customers. The time, effort, and money spent upon achieving these critical certifications will easily provide a sizable return on your investment. Best practices also ensures your team knows immediately how to respond in all situations, minimizes downtime, and helps eliminate finger pointing. The immediate benefits are a faster time to resolution, an increase in overall client perception, which ultimately leads to increased customer loyalty and perception.
IV. Improve your Welcome and Survey Responses
Most organizations have an electronic mechanism designed to “Welcome” new customers and thank them for trying and/or buying their goods and services. Similarly, most organizations have an electronic satisfaction survey sent to their customers once the goods and services they purchased are received and used. But chances are high that you’re overall “electronic messaging” could use some serious rework. Since your electronic communication is viewed by all your customers, ask yourself; does this messaging put my best foot forward and represent my organization well?
You may not be a marketing wiz, but reviewing what the competition is doing helps you gain insight into the current strategies being employed. Ask yourself; is what my competitors are presenting appealing to me if I was their customer? Going a step further, take advantage of your electronic messaging by further advancing your promotional messaging with “did you know” or “have you heard” tidbits. This helps to promote brand awareness. It’s also a subtle way to get your marketing message out while co-discussing main topics with the customer. Additionally, consider adding ideas for self-service improvement, or current market trends, in an effort to provide actionable real data over plain vanilla content.
V. Assign a Dedicated Client Manager
Managing your client account is critical to retaining customer loyalty and improving customer satisfaction. If no one specific is assigned to manage them, how do you know what’s going on inside your customer’s business? In short, if you’re not talking to them, who is? Focus, execution and communication are the keys to understanding how your clients feels about you, and your organization. Ask yourself; are you truly the client’s business partner or just another vendor they buy from?
Customer service, marketing, operations, and product team leads make great candidates for the important role and responsibility of Client Manager. The key qualification factors are the ability to work well with others, and the ability to analyze, negotiate and solve problems. The Client Manager should understand that customer loyalty may internally touch a number of departments. Therefore, each internal department should also assign their own customer loyalty champion to achieve maximum success.
Maintaining and improving customer loyalty plays an integral role to delivering IT Management Services. Establishing a 24×7 real-time operations center, and then proactively monitoring all platforms and services, enables immediate identification of problems within your internal and external IT infrastructure. Offering continuous transparency and standardization of business operations, taking control of issues, and then responding quickly to your customers’ needs, will dramatically improve the overall customer experience. Customer experiences drive perceptions, and it’s their perceptions which increase or decrease customer loyalty.
Author: Patrick Bourke, MVS Practice Lead/Global Data Center Practice – Zensar Technologies