Key Customer Service Competencies: The Big 5 for Carrier Ethernet Vendors
When businesses discuss their value proposition, they often first discuss the specific products they provide and the niche they might fulfill for customers. In the Carrier Ethernet equipment business, terms like “low latency”, “high-availability”, “flexibility” and “resiliency” are often used to describe a company’s product offering and they’re certainly important attributes to build into a solid product. However, more than ever before a company’s service and support capabilities are being weighed by customers looking for remarkable Carrier Ethernet solutions.
According to the American Express Global Customer Service Barometer released earlier this year, nine in 10 Americans (91%) consider the level of customer service important when deciding to do business with a company, but only one-quarter (24%) of the people surveyed believe companies value their business and will go the extra mile to keep it. Interestingly, the study also found that customer service is more important in today’s economic environment and customers will spend an average of 13% more for products when they believe a company provides excellent service.
These findings and others reinforce how crucial customer service and support are for gaining customer trust and loyalty. It’s important to provide a well-rounded service solution with support that matches the quality of your product, especially where leading edge technology is involved. Our service provider customers have shared key elements that they look for when evaluating a vendor’s support organization. So, in random order, here are the top five competencies identified by service providers that Carrier Ethernet equipment vendors should pursue to provide an exceptional experience to delight their customers. It’s been our experience that mastering these things leads to happier customers, increased loyalty and a trusting relationship that results in a true win-win for everyone involved.
- A Quick Response
When you call in for assistance, it should take less than one minute to reach a live engineer ready to help. Problems don’t just happen during business hours – it’s a 24x7 operational environment. And when your network availability is on the line, you can’t afford to navigate a complex voice response or trouble ticketing system. You want to talk to a real human who can solve your problem, and do it with some urgency!
- Experts on Hand
A customer support center should be staffed with highly trained and skilled engineers with an average of 10 years experience running real networks. If you’ve never experienced the pressure of running a large enterprise or service provider network, it’s nearly impossible to understand the impact, scale and urgency of the types of situations that are bound to arise. And when they do, having ready access to a team of Tier 3 support engineers – without having to navigate a tiered escalation procedure – counts!
- Ready Access to Advanced Resources
Physical location of your customer support is also important to provide a rapid problem resolution. When the support organization is co-located with development engineers, customers have ready access to the engineers who actually developed the products. Companies should consider themselves as a virtual extension of a customer’s organization and should be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help keep their systems up and running smoothly. You never know when something unexpected can occur and customers shouldn’t have to wait for a call back.
- Value-Added Services
I f you are struggling to make something work in the lab or in the field, or having trouble with a network design problem, often you don’t have time to schedule training or engage the vendor in a design consultation services arrangement. When you call into support, they should be able to help with basic architecture and design problems, and not be quick to transfer you to an inside sales person who will provide you with a quote for “value added services.” Only a team of Engineers that can combine your unique perspective – because they’ve lived it – with their intimate knowledge of the vendor solution can help.
- Honesty and Personal Commitment
I t sounds so simple – honesty and commitment. But if your vendor has trouble telling you the truth, especially when there is bad news to share, your trust will erode and eventually your commitments to one another become worthless. Customer support teams that work every problem through until your network is back up and running demonstrate commitment on a vendor’s part. And it means not looking for reasons to end the dialog before your problem has been resolved.
So, when you are making decisions about your Carrier Ethernet suppliers, consider the advice of some of the leading service providers in the business and look hard at the support behind the products you are about to deploy in your network.