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Follow-up Ensures Customer Satisfaction Even If You’re Not a Salesman

Updated on December 26, 2013
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As a long-term manager, I have coached my staff to include follow-up on the work they do to ensure satisfaction and find other opportunities for improvement. As a department head, I also make a point of performing follow-up on not only the critical items but also some of the less critical items on a daily basis so I can ensure quality and provide additional coaching to the team.

A couple examples that have become common in my experience as an IT Director are:

· After a programmer completes a requested application and have completed iterative design, I recommend a process review of how the completed application ends up being used. Frequently users will re-purpose the work to perform unintended task that are more time consuming because they do not have the right tool or even worse incorrect because they don't understand the process and assume they can reuse the prior work. For example, a report with too many fields that needs to be manipulated to be useful or a report that is filtered and is missing critical data.

· While large help desks frequently provide customer satisfaction surveys for post call support I have found them inadequate as a measure of success. The method that works well for teams of all sizes is a follow-up conversation on a sample of calls. A couple well placed questions like the following will get more insight than one-thousand surveys:

  • Did we resolve your issue?
  • How long was your wait?
  • Could we have done anything different?
  • Can we do anything else or do you have any other issues?

· Follow-up with people whom you have not worked with for a while. You may learn there a looming issues they did not think were important but could be symptoms of larger problem ("you know my compute has been getting slower lately" may yield a virus or failing hard drive) or you may learn that they are avoiding support because they were not satisfied with the previous service.

While the examples I provide are oriented toward an IT department I think they are applicable to all departments providing a service and certainly for sales departments managing external relationships. Imagine the finance department asking operations if the monthly reports are adequate to manage their business, or facilities asking if the lighting in the office is sufficient, or Human Resources requesting feedback on the benefits.

At any point we are either consumers or service providers and if we consider our desire for follow-up it is easy to recognize the need.

© 2012 Marc Rohde

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