How The I.T. Pros Counters Competition with Customer Service

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print


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Horror stories of unbelievably poor customer service are everywhere these days. And if your customers aren't buying, it may be tempting to cut back on your service levels to them. But a handful of IT solution providers have proven that exceptional customer service can lead to growth, even during the worst economic recession most people can remember.

"In a world of technology, engineers sometimes forget that it’s not about the technology," he says. "It’s about making sure customers are satisfied." And that’s been more important in 2009 than ever before. Ford says he’s seen a pickup in the competition as more unemployed engineers look to start up their own MSP practices using the MSP-offerings-in-a-box available from some Master MSPs and distributors.

That’s made it even more important to differentiate The I.T. Pros as a company that can provide a more professional and available level of service than competitors.

The I.T. Pros does use a help desk model but requires that customers are talking to a technician within 30 seconds. His help desk is divided into three tiers, and customers are automatically escalated to Tier 2 if their issue is not resolved in 30 minutes (unless there’s a clear path to remediation in the next 20 minutes).

Tier 3 engineers spend their time in the field working with clients, says Ford.

And the moment anyone decides a problem cannot be resolved remotely, it is routed to a site visit.

"This is the only way you are going to retain customers," says Ford, talking about his commitment to customer service. That’s why his company has made "Raving Fan" by Ken Blanchard required reading.

That’s helped Ford make a shift in revenues from less product sales to more services sales.

"We strive to emulate that book and how service is rendered," he says. After each encounter, customers are rated in terms of how much of a fan they are on a scale of 1 to 10. Ford says they are tracked on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis, and the company also uses the Help Desk Institute Survey to help gauge customer service satisfaction levels.

"Clients tell us that we are more like employees or staff members than we are like another vendor they do business with," says Chris Boyle, CEO of MyITPros in Austin, Texas. "That’s exactly what we are trying to do."

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com