The Four Pillars of Great Customer Service
The Four Pillars of Great Customer Service
Ruth Williams used to be a teacher. She loved her pupils and was very good at engaging with them.
But something was absent, and much as she misses the classroom, the challenge of commercial life has proved to be more motivating, for over a decade now.
As Business Development Manager at Minerva UK, a leading light in the world of IT and network innovation, Ruth is not only responsible for attracting new clients, but also developing existing ones, though organic growth.
And as far as Ruth is concerned, her success is firmly down to good old fashioned customer service.
So what are the secrets to Ruth’s success?
Ruth is convinced that all parties benefit from the fact that she had virtually no background in IT.
“When I arrived at Minerva in 2012, I knew nothing about technology that the average home computer user didn’t know, so I’ve never been hindered by the jargon of technology. I was incredibly lucky to have two exceptional mentors in John Chadwick and Jon Parnell – the senior leaders at Minerva – and their patience and guidance have enabled me to acquire enough of an understanding of the products, systems and processes to speak to prospects and clients with confidence.
“I now look after more than 60 accounts, and what my clients like – I think – is that I still speak in plain English, and when something is beyond their technical appreciation, I can use analogies to convey the story. It’s a bit like being an interpreter; I translate what my clients want from layman’s terms into tech speak so the service teams can deliver an appropriate solution. And vice versa.
“I think they also appreciate that I try to consider how an IT glitch might impact on the company, and their people. So I don’t just try to solve a problem without considering any underlying issue, or whether there might be a new way of approaching that particular way of working that might be more efficient, or cost effective.”
So what are the essentials of the customer service you deliver?
Irrespective of the products and technical solutions Minerva offers, Ruth’s clients know that they can rely on her, and she believes there are four key components to great customer service:
“Most technicians are great at resolving issues, but I’m also thinking about how the issue might affect how my clients actually feel.
“I take the time to talk to my clients about them as people, and that helps to establish a strong rapport. In many cases, I know their kids’ names, and what they watch on telly, or which football team they support, so we connect at different levels.”
“I’ve learned that it’s counter-productive to hide from reality, so all my clients know that I’ll be 100% straight with them.
“If something goes wrong, they know I’ll go out of my way to find an effective solution as soon as possible. And they know I’ll tell them if I need to take advice from my more technically savvy colleagues if I don’t know the answer.
“It’s ok to say: ‘I don’t know’, and it’s okay to apologise if something goes wrong. There’s a kind of vulnerability in that which clients find reassuring. They appreciate the transparency.”
“I know it’s not unique, and it sounds like a cliché, but I really do care about my clients. I’m aware that I’m in a minority as a woman in a male-dominated industry, and perhaps this adds to the feeling that I approach things in a slightly different way.”
“Naturally, time management and keeping your eye on the ball is key to maintaining clients’ confidence that we are working for and with them.”
So does Ruth regret leaving her teaching role to take on the trials and tribulations of looking after issues of slow IT systems, disappeared emails, software licences, forgotten passwords, lost data, malfunctioning printers and incompatible networks?
“Not a bit!” she insists, “this is a great place to work, and the support I get from the whole team is amazing. I’ve watched them and learned from them. Learned to be structured, to be more entrepreneurial, sometimes more spontaneous. For me, it beats teaching hands down.
“I became a mum to twins a year ago, and it’s made me much more relaxed at work, partly because it’s a bit of an oasis from the chaos at home, and I’ve got used to juggling my time, but also because parenthood has made me realise that only very few things in life – or work – are really important.
“I’ve grown to appreciate that you can only do your best, and you can’t hope to do everything.
“Perhaps there might have been a time when this might have manifested itself as imposter syndrome, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that you don’t have to be perfect to be very good at what you do.
“And the fact that so many of my clients have been with us for so many years gives me confidence that they value us as much as we value them.”
Ruth Williams is Business Development Manager at Minerva IT, based in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire.