More On Service Expectations (or, Moron Service Expectations)

In my ADD fugue state yesterday it turns out I missed the primary point of my primary reason for writing that blog. Service Expectations.

Here's what I meant to say:

I was in Mexico last weekend for the absolutely fantastic fantasy wedding of my dear friend and ESG colleague Taya Wyss at the illustrious Garza Blanca resort in somewhere Mexico. Taya and her hubby, Adam, decided on a destination wedding at an outrageously high-end resort (in order to keep out the riff raff, but I still got there!). High end as in Vanessa Williams lounged there high end. High end as in a month before in one of the ridiculous celebrity sighting magazines that all have the exact same crap in them, Eva Longoria was photo'd staying there. In short, silly high end is my central point.

With silly high end comes EXPECTATIONS of SERVICE. I, and most everyone else I suspect, assumed that since I had to sell two of my children to the Mexican government in order to pay for the weekend, the service level would be comensurate with the price (and scenery - it was magical - no kidding, i'm standing in the pool with a cocktail overlooking the ocean and a 70' whale breaches 100 yards away. Crazy). Alas, it was not.

It took roughly 400X longer than I like to wait for a cocktail. Dinner was horrible - service and food. (They had been aptly threatened by my wife and 800lb NFL linemen enough so that the wedding itself had perfect service - but everything around it was atrocious).

My point here is that as marvelous as my overall experience was, it was undeniably tarnished by the mismatch of perception to reality in terms of service.

I would not recommend the place because of it.

The same thing happens in IT. There are a ton of companies who have fantastic products, that treat service as a bastard stepchild. They only put money and effort into service to "fix" things - not to proactively engage. Smart companies use service-led engagements as a way to create better customer relationships, greater "stickiness" and ultimately better revenue opportunities. Bad service companies focus on "break fix" only and even there spend grudgingly.

I hate to use a flagrant EMC term, but this one applies to both my Mexican adventure and the IT industry: its about the TOTAL CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE. During the wedding itself, I never once ordered a drink after my first one - because there was someone literally stalking me handing me a new cocktail every time I was two sips from empty (all 87 times). That was good proactive service. I ordered a pile of champagne, and no one I knew who was drinking it ever had an empty glass. That little detail helped make the experience MUCH GREATER than it really was. That's what services do.

I assumed my room would be great, the weather would be great, the wedding would be great but the extra effort from a services perspective made EVERYHING about my relationship with the resort great. For that period of time. The next day, it was back to shitty service, which diminished all the positive momentum that was created.

If your vendor is responsive ONLY when something breaks of theirs in your shop, that's nice - but it isn't going to make you feel actively ENGAGED in the relationship. That' s old school. When a vendor service sits you down and teaches you or helps you in some way while everything is WORKING, a real bi-directional "skin in the game" relationship can be formed. I EXPECT that you will fix the thing i bought that just blew up. So successfully doing so does not elevate you in our relationship. Smart companies do what is NOT expected. They invest in front of service revenue - they get it. They build a stronger relationship than those who don't - because let's face it, no matter how great your gizmo is, sooner or later someone is going to have one that is "good enough" and if they have a stronger strategic relationship in that account, you are out - they are in.

It is no longer enough to know only about YOUR PRODUCT. I expect that you know that. I need you to know about MY ENVIRONMENT - which includes (like it or not) other vendors' stuff. You need to start bringing HOLISTIC service value to my account in order to further our courtship.

Now, go get me a drink.

P.S.. Vanessa has the same shitty service as the rest of us, so it's not like she got special treatment. They were extremely fair in dispensing shitty service to all. Which is nice.

Topics: IT Infrastructure