Many services providers fall into the trap of over-serving certain clients and under-serving others. It's an easy mistake to make if you're passionate about good service.
Successful IT companies need to provide more than just great products. Customers – myself included – want the complete package: innovative offerings, affordable pricing structures, 24/7 helpdesk support, all underpinned by excellent service.
However, providing great service is not easy as you might think. It can be a company's undoing, because in its commitment to help and serve the customer, it can sometimes give too much.
And then there is likely to be one victim – the services company itself. This mistake is easily made, unless you find a way to keep your efforts in check.
The desire to serve may be driven by emotion rather than pragmatism. There can be an inherent sense of gratitude towards the client.
Maybe the client is perceived as a flagship account where the associated prestige of serving them is worth a high price. Or, as is often the case, there is a strong customer and supplier relationship, perhaps even a friendship.
This can be to the detriment of other customers, who may then be overlooked. If there were a simple way to know how much time is being spent on one customer, what projects have been achieved and the expected RoI, sentiment could be brushed aside when the client relationship becomes unprofitable.
Managing service is all about the details. It's important to know who does what, for whom, when, how long and how well. However, if you recorded this level of detail, you might never complete the job in hand.
This is a huge undertaking for these organisations. It involves reining in employees' natural tendency to give their time freely to weigh the service against the cost.
Many fast-growing companies lack the tools to efficiently manage their service levels. Systems should be put in place that enable every single transaction to be quantified.
Mark Banfield is European vice president at Autotask
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