Most people who have a great experience at a hotel remember it, return again and tell their others. If they have a bad experience, they remember it, do not return and tell others. For negative experiences, they often tell more people and remember it for much longer.
The Ritz-Carlton hotel stands out as the gold standard for delivering outstanding customer service at each opportunity with a guest during their stay. All great companies that understand customers’ needs and wants follow three service strategies that create happy customers. The same is true about how IT Managed Services Providers (MSPs) deliver great service.
When a customer arrives at a hotel like the Ritz-Carlton model, they want their stay be memorable, satisfying and stress-free. Successful IT Managed Service Providers follow similar strategies like the Ritz-Carlton in order to wow their customers.
The 3 strategies Managed Service Providers follow to wow customers are:
- Personalized service to customers using technology.
- Investing in training and development.
- Empowering employees.
Before moving on, what does a Managed Services Company do? Wikipedia defines managed services “as the practice of out-sourcing a company’s day-to-day IT management responsibilities to a third party as a strategic method for improving operations.” Companies that focus on what they do best understand that outsourcing their technology needs leads to happier and more productive employees. They do their work with less stress and peace of mind. Company executives get better guidance from specialists who understand their business. This supports making strategic decisions that move the company forward.
1. Personalize service using technology properly
Prior to check-in, Ritz-Carlton staff record detailed information about a guest’s preferences wants and needs in their reservation computer system. For example, an agent in reservations noticed a guest used the tennis courts at other Ritz hotels. The guest had not stayed at this location and was unaware about tennis. The agent informed the guest about the tennis courts at this location and arrange for court time and lessons to be books while taking the reservation.
Ritz employees also personalize guest rooms according to each guest’s preferences like room service preferences, choice of newspaper, contents of the mini-bar and any modifications to the room. Frontline staff update guest records in the system in real-time after learning a new guest preference. This might include special requests or specific personal, family or work related concerns or problems.
Similarly, a managed services company works closely with management and each employee to understand their needs, wants and preferences. Every employee needs to be heard. This means their problems get resolved quickly whether by face-to-face, over the phone or by email. Resolutions must be quick, convenient and easy to understand for all customers.
For example, when a new employee is hired, the human resources department or manager communicates with IT. The expectation before the new employee arrives is to set them up with email, a computer, tablet or smart phone that works locally and remotely. The employee is assigned a phone extension, voicemail, and access to enterprise wide software applications and other specific applications for their position. To ensure a smooth transition, the IT service company needs to record detailed information after speaking with the appropriate individuals and departments. Conversely, when an employee resigns, takes a leave of absence or is terminated, a different set of steps is required. This may involve suspending or revoking an employee’s privileges.
2. Train, develop and mentor your people
The Ritz-Carlton invests in training and development. Frontline employees who interact with customers like receptionists, bellhops and wait staff receive about four weeks of formal training their first year. Employees – both new hires and veterans – meet for 15 minutes each day, exchanging stories about how they wowed a guest. Each day, they review one of the twenty guidelines from the Gold Standards, a wallet-sized card that describes the company’s customer service philosophy.[i]
Similarly, IT service companies match veterans with rookies, spending many weeks mentoring and onboarding by reviewing best practices, policies and procedures. They visit customers, make introductions and describe subtle differences for each employee’s computer preferences. Mentoring, onboarding and cross training ensures familiarity with each customer’s environment if the assigned consultant is unavailable or on holiday. The goal is to reduce the number of handoffs and have the fewest people solve a problem quickly.
3. Empower employees
The Ritz-Carlton empowers employees to make decisions quickly and resolve challenging situations because guest satisfaction is foremost. Each frontline staff can spend up to $2000 to solve a customer problem or complaint. It is often enough when an employee empathizes with a stressed out guest by listening to their concerns, complaints or challenges, which may nothing to do with the hotel. The Ritz also has a practice of under promising and over delivering with the goal of delighting a guest.
Similarly, great IT service companies empower their people to solve customer problems and complaints by doing whatever it takes and going the extra mile. That means staying on the phone until the issue is resolved, driving to the customer site or getting support from other team members to quickly solve a problem. When a customer is stressed, the IT professional must not only solve their problem. They also need to make a customer feel happy — by being clear, thoughtful and easy to deal every time.
Great service companies truly understand their customers’ needs and wants. If you are selecting a new service provider, consider measuring them on how often they wow their customers.
[i] Joseph M. Hall and M. Eric Johnson, “When Should a Process Be Art, Not Science?” Harvard Business Review,” March 2009