A week or so ago I took a short vacation down to Belize. I'd had the trip planned for months and had everything all lined up - flights, hotels, car service to and from the airport - you name it I planned it. I'm sort of a psycho that way. Everything went fantastically - for all of about 90 minutes after we left my house...
You see, to get from Austin Texas to Belize City, Belize you fly from Austin to Houston (about 40 minutes) and then from Houston to Belize (about 2 hours). When we got to Houston we were informed that the airline had oversold the flight and that they weren't able to assign us seats yet. At first they said to just have a seat and not to worry and we'd get a seat assignment in a few minutes. However, as it turns out, we never did get those seat assignments and a series of events unfolded that put us in Atlanta for 2 days with a completely different airline without even a change of clothes and starting our Belize vacation about 2 1/2 days after we'd planned to.
During those 2 1/2 days and this entire set of events what really struck home with me was the impact that each individual customer service person we worked with along the had on our overall experience. The situation in of itself was pretty bad, but a few customer service people with a bad attitudes made things significantly worse. Likewise, there were 4 people along the way whose positive attitudes, empathy, and genuine desires to help made the situation not seem to bad after all and enabled me to retain some of my otherwise rapidly dwindling sanity.
In today's business environment none of us can afford to forget the value of a loyal customer. I tend to be a pretty positive person and I didn't blog, tweet, or add any Facebook posts on the negative attitudes I encountered but I did tweet and post on Facebook about several of the people along the way who did everything that they could to turn the situation around and hope that their bosses took notice and rewarded those folks.
As IT professionals it's all too easy to get wrapped up in the bits and bytes of what we do and forget that at the end of they day it's a very specialized kind of customer service that we provide. Whether you're a network engineer on the infrastructure team, a virtualization specialist building out a private cloud in the data center, or a system administrator migrating your users to Exchange 2010 - your users are your customers and as much as we all like to joke about our end users, we wouldn't have jobs without them.
So, as one IT person to another, as a guy who helped start a company where providing exemplary customer service is a big part of what separates us from the wannabes and posers out there trying to duplicate what we've created - take care of your customers. Because if you don't, somebody else will...
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