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January 24, 2012

Appliance Deployment and Customer Satisfaction

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor


It’s possible to get so fixated on the particulars of what we do in our business every day that we lose sight of the overall picture. For example, what business are you in? Hotels? Telecommunications? Transportation? Computer applications and deployment? Voice over Internet Protocol? Selling anvils to coyotes? Mafia hit man?

Wrong. You’re in the customer satisfaction business. Appliance deployment professionals NEI (News - Alert) know this, and a recent blog post was written to remind their industry colleagues that no matter what line of work you think you’re in, you’re in the business of pleasing customers and providing goods and services that are valued by other people enough to pay for more than once.

In the highly informative post, NEI’s President & CEO Greg Shortell wraps it all up under the headline of “The Experience.” It’s not just the product; it’s not just the service that you’re selling. A great VoIP phone system sold by rude sales people, delivered by indifferent contractors and installed by surly, uncommunicative technicians is a bad overall customer experience.

Shortell details a recent auto service job where the mechanics asked him, “Had they met my expectations on the service experience they provided and was there anything they could do to improve the experience?” Underline the word “experience” in that sentence. Not just “was your car fixed?” but “can we improve the overall experience?” Obviously fixing the car falls under that, yes, but the overall experience is much more than simply having your car fixed.

When it comes to appliance deployment, customers are humans who want to be satisfied, if not delighted, in their significant interactions with a company. And Shortell sums up the best avenue to satisfying and delighting a customer in a meeting as “asking ahead of time what the customer expects to accomplish – or what would be the best use of the available time.”

To that end, Shortell recommends listening to what the customer says – not just hearing, but listening. One way to assure yourself, as well as the customer, that you’ve done this ahead of the meeting is to send an  an agenda in advance to confirm that you’re both on the same page.

In addition to listening to the actual customer, find other people to listen to. Shortell recommends initiating follow-up calls with channels or resellers, because they might be correcting things you don’t even know are amiss. “Wrong power plugs was an example I found,” he said, adding that he gets good suggestions from such interactions, if not always specific troubleshooting fixes.

Moreover, look for ways to give customers unexpected “wow” moments, as Shortell says. Want some ideas? Look at Nordstrom’s and Disney (News - Alert) case studies, among others. The Web is awash with them, as they’re the stuff of customer satisfaction legend.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO East 2012, taking place Jan. 31-Feb. 3 2012, in Miami, FL. ITEXPO (News - Alert) offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. For more information on registering for ITEXPO registration click here.

Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO. Follow us on Twitter.


David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Jamie Epstein


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