Steve Sterling, Contributor

Responsiveness is 99 Percent of World-Class Support

By Steve Sterling, Contributor | Permanent Link


Three years ago I interviewed the operations and quality manager at the nation’s oldest continuously operating brewery for an article I was writing on robotics for Packaging World magazine. The brewery used robots to automate de-palletizing and palletizing heavy beer kegs entering and leaving the plant. I asked about service from the robotics company and the manager answered, “We’ve received world-class responsiveness in terms of support from the robotics supplier. That level of support ensures that we don’t miss a beat in terms of overall production.”

That quote has stuck with me, because whenever I need support it’s the companies that are available and responsive that I value most. Not too long ago my automated computer back up system stopped working. I went to the supplier’s website and had to scroll through page after page until I found the tech service telephone number. Actually, I finally found it on the parent company’s website. And the support effort went downhill from there. The techs were great to work with, but the problem dragged on because, of all things, the tech’s work shift hardly overlapped my workday leaving a tiny window of opportunity to develop a fix.

The problem was eventually resolved, but when another problem occurred with the same system, I dumped the provider. I did not have the time or patience to work with that company. Besides, I dreaded having to invest the time to find that phone number again.

At a minimum, this is what I look for in terms of a responsive service organization:

  • A phone number that is easy to find on the website or attached to the product or documentation.
  • If I have to email the supplier, I want the company to acknowledge my email and quickly let me how long I’ll have to wait for a reply.
  • When I call, I want to be put through to a support person quickly and with as short a phone message tree as possible.
  • I want support hours that correspond to my work day.
  • I want the tech support person to share my sense of urgency, to be knowledgeable, and to get a fix rolling ASAP.
  • I want to work with a tech support organization that is creative and empowered to provide an out-of-the-box solution if necessary.

When a supplier sells a product to my business, that company implicitly becomes my partner in productivity. Some companies get that, while others don’t. It’s the ones who get it that earn my loyalty and gain the benefit of my endorsement when others ask me for supplier recommendations.

Here’s the question: Is responsiveness the number one thing you value in service and support organizations? Vote yes or no. I welcome your comments.

Is responsiveness the number one thing you value in service and support organizations?

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