February 4, 2015

Beware of the oft-used title — “customer service.”

Unfortunately, those two words can often be misleading.

Kate Nassar in her “Smart SenseAbilities” blog clearly describes both what they are —- and, what they aren’t:

“In Wikipedia, you will find customer service defined as: the provision of service before, during, and after a purchase.

Customer service defined this way (as an operation) inspires few to the heights of service greatness. It does lead to structured processes, procedures, scripts, and metrics that leaders often mistake for customer service. As a result these procedures don’t produce unforgettable customer service. . . .

(If an) organization thinks of customer service as a department, (they) won’t see the cross teamwork needed to deliver great customer service. If (that) organization thinks of customer service as an operation, (they) won’t create strong customer relationships through empathy and care. . . .”

As practiced by most skills-training vendors, customer service is merely a response department in which the sole job is to respond to complaints, error reports and other problems.

What you should be looking for is a courseware vendor that practices “customer assurance” — a skills-training vendor that is thinking “customers” from initial development through service-after-the-sale.

It all starts with courseware development where having a base of procedural information also includes “best practices” and “proper tool use” plus, “safety and good housekeeping considerations.”

Secondly, real customer assurance is rooted in “customer partnerships.”

Does the choice of subjects-to-be-taught come as a response to customer-interest? Does the video and graphics, necessary to skills-based learning, originate from actual on-site visits to process and manufacturing customer-partners? Does the onscreen talent represent actual maintenance technicians, already expert at the procedures being taught?

The third aspect of customer assurance involves the planning and review stages that are integral to the courseware being created? Are applicable customer-partners involved at every step in the development process?

The final step is the one we, typically, refer to as “customer service” — an after-the-sale activity that results in “fixes” to problems and questions.

However, without the other aspects of “customer assurance,” the “customer service” component will be never-ending — simply because “customers” were never seriously involved in the planning, making, and reviewing processes — all so essential to meaningful learning today.

Before making your generic courseware purchases, it will certainly behoove you to ask your proposed vendors what they mean (and, practice) when they claim credit for “excellent customer service.”

More on Monday – – –

— Bill Walton: co-Founder, ITC Learning
(Mondays & Wednesdays)