Customer Satisfaction

Sometimes we cannot satisfy the clients we did the most for.

Calvin (from Calvin & Hobbes) would say: “The irony of this is just sickening.”

We did our best, the result was great, still the client is obviously unsatisfied and even angry with us.

What happened ?

There is the work done and there is the work perceived.

The mind of the customer transforms the work done as a prism.

After the work done passes thru the prism it can become a beauty or a monster.

So when we work we are fighting on 2 fronts:

  • actually doing a good work
  • building a good image of the work done in the mind of the customers

In order to accomplish the first step, we need to be highly skilled. This means study, training and sweat.

In order to accomplish the second step, it is interesting to know how a client is handled by the concierges of the world best hotels.

They treat the customers as important and precious things. They never lose temper. They never lose manners. Always keep dignity and respect.

Manners are always a powerful weapon that will help in keeping relations on the tracks of reason.

An unsatisfied (even angry) customer can give a precious help when we ask him “what you think we can do in order to solve the problem ?”

If the customer suggests a reasonable solution, everything will be ok.

If the customer requires what is unreasonable, we should explain why this cannot be done and suggest an alternate solution.

Educate your customers

Some customers are unreasonable because they don’t know how our service works - so it is our job to educate them.

A manager who requests custom software is surprised by many sides of the business:

  • specs change a lot during the process
  • there seem to be new unplanned needs every day
  • costs skyrocket. The initial budget is often a fraction of the final costs
  • it is hard to judge the quality of the final software
  • why should a yearly sum should be paid for software support ?
  • why custom software costs many times its off-the-shelf counterpart ?

Wise software companies during the usual periodic meetings (besides showing the progress in the work done) slowly give answers to these common questions:

  • customers see the benefits of an automated system when they start using it... and want more. They can see new benefits that were not possible or even unconceivable at the start
  • several researches show that the final cost of an ERP system is 5 times the purchase cost
  • an off-the-shelf software only provides a fixed number of features. Existing features cannot be changed. New features cannot be added. Custom software can be changed or enriched with almost no limit.
  • software is expensive. However it will provide savings and benefits that have a much bigger value
  • if the company software stops, which are the costs ? A company cannot risk to be without support for mission-critical software.

The Cloud

In a few years we can probably forecast the end of distributed computing. For a company the cost of maintaining distributed software is just too stiff and troublesome. Employees will have lean and portable devices that only run a browser. All company applications will be on a central server.

This central server will probably be leased, together with its support. This will be the end of large and expensive IT departments. Most applications will be provided on a pay-per-use schema. A dramatic chance in the life of suppliers, programmers, system engineers and managers.

No chance cames without resistance. A lot of managers are worried about the privacy and safety of company data when carried away from in-house servers and stored in the cloud.

It seems reasonable that important data and programs are not allowed to go out of the company gates but … probably we need to think a bit deeper into the question.

The most important financial data of a company are already in the cloud. The banks have them in their servers.

Many of the managers who appear so conscious about company data spend very little on security. If need be, a professional hacker will penetrate the company servers in minutes. A leased server will be guarded much better.

Many of the managers who appear so conscious about company data spend very little on safety. A simple leakage from the roof could bring the company to its knees.

A server in a web farm can be leased with an option for disaster recovery. In case of arson, earthquake, downpour the company can be up and running with a very short (or even no) downtime.

Now what if company data is stolen from the cloud ? Managers know little re the progress done in the field of data security.

Most providers (including Google) scatter data into several anonimous file stored in different servers.

Even if a hacker could penetrate one of the servers, the hacker would find N files that he cannot assign to any specific owner.

Besides, data belonging to one customer are scattered on several servers worldwide for both reasons of security and safety

A hacker would have to penetrate a rather big number of servers so to gather the wanted informations... but he cannot know which servers he should access!

What about penetrating all servers ? This is unlikely: the number of servers owned by Google is estimated to 900,000 ...

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