For IT professionals, customer service excellence means taking it personally

In a world that thrives on ensuring acceptable, err… minimum standards in service, it’s about going out of your way. What kind of difference are you making?

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“The achievements of an organization are the result of the
combined efforts of each individual”
–Vince Lombardi, the famous NFL coach

Do you have a personal story about a great customer service experience?  I am sure you do.

So many books and blogs have been written about great customer service.  Celebrating the triumph of the human spirit, these stories are often read and shared with others.  In a “seen-that, done-that” world craving for inspiration, they make us smile and motivate us to live out the core values we hold dear. Interestingly, the stories that touch us the most are the ones that are profound, yet simple.

Take Fred, the postman from Denver, whose story has inspired the author to pen best-selling book “The Fred Factor”. It is subtitled “How passion in your work and life can turn the ordinary to extra-ordinary”.

Henry James Thoreau once said, “Most men lead their lives in quiet desperation and go to their graves with the song still in them.”  Are you passionate about what you do? Or do you spend more time filling your mind with excuses as to why you can’t bring zest and energy to the work you’re called to do? When things go south as they sometimes do, I turn to inspirational stories to maintain a positive mindset and fight this temptation.

An excerpt from the first Fred Principle in the book:

It doesn’t matter how large or even how screwed up an organization is. An individual can still make a difference within that organization. An employer can hinder exceptional performance, choose to ignore it, and not adequately recognize or encourage it. Or, an employer can train employees to achieve exceptional performance and then reward it. But ultimately, only the employee can choose to do his or her job in an extraordinary way, either because of, or in spite of, circumstances.

Think about it. Do you add to or take away from the experience of your customers and colleagues? Do you move your organization closer to or further from its goals? Do you perform your work in an ordinary way or do you execute it superbly? Do you lighten someone’s burden, or add to it? Do you lift someone up, or put someone down?

Nobody can prevent you from choosing to be exceptional. The only question at the end of the day that matters is, “What kind of difference do you make?”

The themes from great customer experience stories are, curiously, quite similar. In a world that thrives on ensuring acceptable, err… minimum standards in service, it’s about going out of your way… above and beyond what is asked. Despite how busy things can often get, it’s about paying attention to meaningful details that make people feel special and appreciated.

At Allstream, we recognize that in order to be successful in delivering superior, if not exceptional customer experiences, we need to embed our organizational core values of “passion”, “commitment”, “empathy” into our DNA and make it part of every decision, of every conversation or interaction that we have with our internal and external customers. It’s going to take hard work. And it’s going to take ALL of us, not just some of us, to be truly successful. The same holds true for CIOs and the IT departments they lead.

As in the Fred Principle, it bears repeating that at the end of the day, we will have to ask ourselves “What kind of difference can I make?”

Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you’ve said, or what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel”. People can sense whether we are just going through the motions, or if we are sincerely trying to help. We can only be authentic and truly successful, when each one of us takes it personally.

Deep inside each of us is a Fred. Each of us has the capacity to make things better, to play to our strengths and change the game.

Let us be difference-makers and blaze a trail.


Image by SQI

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