Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.Bill Gates
Although most will find an unhappy customer to be a pain point or stressor of some sort I always try to find the “silver-lining” in their cloud.
Be grateful for “unhappy customers” as they are the ones who care enough to actually tell you how they feel when they do not like something. This type of feedback is invaluable as they are taking the time to let you know something is not working. It might be something just not working for them, or it could be something affecting everyone using your product.
Granted, the “not working” can also be for any number of reasons ranging from utterly broken to functional misunderstandings although in all of these cases there will be something to be learned.
You might not have been aware something was broken, it could be an edge-case scenario that was not considered in testing. If there is a “functional misunderstanding” it could simply be a matter of improving and/or adding documentation to explain what the function does and what to expect when using it.
Taking the time to understand why a custom is unhappy will always provide a benefit even if it is nothing more than how to better address the feedback they are sharing.
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You may never reach the horizon and you will never get any closer if you don’t move towards it.
A lofty or far reaching goal is never a bad thing as long as you make an effort towards reaching it; and, if that horizon is too far away, set a goal that is closer but always remember the horizon will always be out there.
I’m not saying set an unreachable goal, what I’m saying is do not be complacent in your goals. Always look forward, always dream, always have a goal! There is nothing more important than having something to look forward to.
Stop to enjoy the wins along the way, all those in-between goals you set from you to the horizon but don’t just stop there. Give yourself the opportunity to move forward, to excel, to improve, to be better… and try to help those around you do the same.
Remember, everyone’s horizon is a bit different and for some it’s a bit closer and for others it’s a bit farther away and although in reality it’s all the same horizon everyone perceives it a bit differently. Helping another to get to their goals between themselves and their horizon will ultimately help you reach your goals between you and your horizon… and remember to move forward.
The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.Walt Disney
Isn’t that a wonderful idea… begin doing. Sometimes it’s not really about what you are doing it is simply about doing something. Ideally you will have a focus on a goal although what’s more important, the goal? or, working on something that will produce results?
I would say one of the hardest, and easiest, things to do is something you have not done before. It’s hard, or perhaps “scary” because of the unknown although in that same vein is exciting and easy because you will be learning something new and doing something different. Will you get it right? Will you succeed? Will you reach your expectations? First, just begin doing… then worry about these questions.
The great thing about begin doing, you can always re-frame the questions along the way… what’s stopping you?
Don’t let yourself be your biggest obstacle… begin doing and then figure out where you’re going. You can always talk about the experience along the way and most definitely share it afterward.
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Never do things others can do and will do if there are things others cannot do or will not do.Amelia Earhart
Helping others can often time mean doing something others cannot, or just will not, do. This could be a special skill or adeptness, or simply choosing to “muck out the stables” when fetching the water could also be done.
In many cases, the real defining aspect is the work needed to be done… and whether you have already put the efforts in or just need to put the effort forth. Helping others is still going to be “work” in that sense although stepping up and putting yourself in the position to do the work can only be better for your customer as well as yourself.
This also speaks to challenging yourself with new goals and ideals. It doesn’t necessarily translate into being the first, or the best (although it could); it really should be considered as just being more capable of helping more people.
Possibly even more important, when you are stepping up your skills, is to help others do the same so they can step up their game, too. In the end, everyone wins as everyone else gets more done and there are fewer things others cannot do or will not do.
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Value those people who tell you the truth, not just those people who tell you what you want to hear.Pat Summitt
One of the most important aspects of providing support is the ability to be open and transparent with the information you are sharing… and knowing how best to provide that information.
Telling a customer the truth about a feature not working as expected, or perhaps not existing is much more valuable that find an obfuscated turn of phrase that is intended to provide an answer although not provide a solution. If you do not know, just say so!
Not knowing an answer is not necessarily a bad thing provided you let the customer know that is the case and also that you will find out what the answer is and get back to them with it. If you don’t find that answer, still get back to the customer with a response and let them know that, too.
Support is mostly about communication and building a rapport with the customers you are working with. These customers should know, or at the least be comfortable with, you will provide them the best, most truthful and complete answer you are able to.
Tell the truth… sugar-coat if you must but not so much you lost the customer. Going forward, you will both know you are starting from the same point and understanding.
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Success is attaining your dream while helping others to benefit from that dream materializing.Sugar Ray Leonard
There is no reason to climb over others to reach the goals you have set for yourself. You will feel much better and more accomplished by having others rise up with you.
Make room for your family, friends, team, circles of influence, and acquaintances to benefit from your dreams. Make room for everyone you meet along the path your dream takes you on, and to share the successes and benefits of the goals you achieve.
A dream shared is much easier to turn into a goal. Sharing a dream with others means they may be able to help you turn that dream into a goal and perhaps even make their own dreams come true along the way.
It is far greater to share a dream with others than to sit alone, at the top, and have no one to share the successes it can bring you.
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You don’t have to hit all of life’s curveballs out of the park… singles, doubles, and triples can still move your team mates around the bases.
Accept that not everything will go your way. To continue in the analogy above, the ball is not going to bounce your way every time. If you think it will, or more importantly think it does, you can consider yourself extremely lucky or fortunate… or in life’s reality: probably mislead.
Some days you’re going to make that catch and other days you’re going to make Bucky Dent look good. The idea is not so much to dwell on that ball slipping through your legs, or catching a fly ball as it tries to sail over the left field fence. See both as opportunities to learn and improve… block the ball so it doesn’t get past you, or anticipate that spot on the fence and get there ahead of the ball so that spectacular leap has less chance of not being timed perfectly.
Both of these ideals will provide benefits if you take the time to learn from them. Also, share these experiences with your teammates whether they were there on the field with you or not.
The most important part of lessons learned is sharing which can only help; and, every little bit of help can make the difference especially when you’re expecting that curveball on the outside corner and it drops off the table when it gets to the plate.
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Measuring programming progress by lines of code is like measuring aircraft building progress by weight. Bill Gates
When reviewing your success rates, or progress towards the goals you are trying to achieve, you should be looking at what you are actually reviewing to ensure it is relevant in the first place… or, in other words, does it really what matters?
My thoughts on this are more or less to the point of looking at how well a customer care person addressed the concern brought to their attention. This is the end result metric to be considered over most any other indicator.
This does not mean volumes should not be taken into consideration only that it is likely more relevant to look at the volume in the context of how it relates specifically to the concern at hand. The more concerns being brought forward for the same problem would point to something upstream that may need to be addressed in general such as a software bug or a process that is inefficient or poorly explained.
Also to be taken into consideration with the above is the length of the conversation. Providing a suggested solution and explaining it clearly in a language the customer can understand and take action with is ideally done with the first response although in some cases more details and context are needed to provide the most correct solution idea. A relevant benchmark for the number of back and forth responses should be set but does not need to be explicitly held to a specific number that cannot be exceeded.
Keeping the conversation on point and to an ideal minimum will ultimately provide the best customer care. Ensuring these two ideals will generally address any other metrics you may want to consider provided when you take those measurements you know exactly what you are looking at and why you need to know them.
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If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to treat everything as if it were a nail. Abraham Maslow
Although pounding something into place may be satisfying and even possibly achieve the end results needed ultimately it may not have been the best approach to take.
Providing support requires you make certain the toolbox of resources you have at your disposal consists of more than a one-size fits all hammer. To continue with the analogy, you may need a screwdriver because it may be a screw you are faced with instead of a nail. Again, this doesn’t mean the hammer wouldn’t work but it’s not likely the right tool for the job.
Using what you believe to be the right tool for the job, aside from likely achieving the goal most effectively and efficiently also generally provides for the means to walk-back a solution if it turns out not to be correct.
Also to note, don’t just reach into your toolbox and be satisfied the first tool you grab will be the right one. Take time to review the problem and then look in your toolbox to see if you have the right tool for the job… and if you don’t, know where to get help with finding the right tool and learn how to add it to your toolbox.
One thing to remember, and often overlooked when you have a wide array of tools to choose from, if you are actually dealing with a nail go ahead and use your hammer.
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Life’s under no obligation to give us what we expect.Margaret Mitchell
Much like Baden Powell and the Boy Scouts promote, always be prepared especially when dealing with others. Although one might think they know what to expect it is often times something else causing the issue or concern.
It is important to remember that to find common ground in your communication to ensure you are able to explain the idea you are trying to present. This may mean reducing your vocabulary to more common, every-day words and phrases or being more precise in the technical description of the problem at hand. Each instance will be based on the overall context of the conversation.
Do not expect everyone will be able to immediately understand what you are saying, and in the same vein, you should not always expect to be immediately understood. Sometimes the communication gap needs to be bridged otherwise you might have the gist of the idea get lost in translation.
Always take the time to understand what is expected rather than simply moving forward believing you know, without doubt, those expectations.