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You hear the stories all the time. Stories of unsatisfied customers. Stories
of unbelievably poor customer service.

Case in point: A business needs to upgrade its bandwidth with its ISP but gets
routed to a call center in the Philippines
(or insert your favorite outsourcing location) and the person on the line can’t
tell them who their local sales rep is because the information in the file is
incomplete. When the local rep is finally identified and dispatched to the
customer office, the problems don’t end there. Thirty days later, the bandwidth
still hasn’t been upgraded, and the business customer has lost his last shred
of patience.

This is the kind of customer service that drives business customers—or any kind
of customer—into the arms of competitors. You’ve probably done it yourself—abandoned
a company you did business with because they were unresponsive to your needs.

And yet stories like the one about that business looking to upgrade ISP service—a
true one—still happen every day. Is your company the kind of company that can
provide brilliant customer service, or do your customers end up frustrated and
annoyed? Have the economic realities of the recession tempted you to cut
back on customer service resources or outsource them?

Experts say that a commitment to customer service can give any company an
advantage, even during a recession.

“The level of customer service that IT service providers offer makes a
difference,” says Kendra Lee, president and founder of The KLA Group, a sales
consulting and training company specializing in IT service providers.

And VARs and MSPs who have made a commitment to customer service say it has
helped them to weather this last year of deep economic recession. Some who have
made customer service their No. 1 focus have even reported growth during 2009
as competitors’ customers have come looking for a better experience.

Five Nines
Five Nines Technology Group of Lincoln, Neb.,
is one such example. Co-founder and CEO Nick
Bock says his company doesn’t use a call center model or multiple tiers of
technicians. Instead, everybody is the most advanced tier of technician. Every
customer is assigned to a single senior technician who understands not only
their infrastructure but also the vertical applications that may be unique to their
particular line of business. When they call for help, they get their senior
level technician.