Can Technical People Really Provide Excellent Customer Service?

Can Technical People Really Provide Excellent Customer Service?
Technical people are like doctors. All of them. Be they mechanics, ICT practitioners across the divide from programmers to networking professionals, architects, engineers from the entire spectrum from civil to chemical, scientists, aviation engineers – you name it. They process the same train of thought where a problem presents itself, they diagnose the cause, ‘architect or ‘engineer’ the solution, implement it and voila! Their work is done. They are happy! Problem solved!
When this is how the basic frame of your technical team’s thinking runs, it is quite the uphill task to bring them round to thinking about the ‘frills’ required to deliver delightful customer experiences.
It’s quite the challenge to deviate from their solution orientation, and to have them think about what it takes to deliver the same solution, whilst incorporating aspects that will ensure the customer is comfortable.
Technical people are generally wired (pun intended) to resolve issues. To unravel technical mysteries; to design and provide solutions that improve performance. To do this and at the same time handle the end recipient ( the customer) in a manner that has them satisfied, requires a tricky balance between being the ‘techie’ and being a people person who seeks to educate and inform the customer to ensure partnership in the process of delivering the service. It is said that techies are generally introverts and lack the people management flair that has one be naturally outgoing and outspoken. And that they generally would be quite happy to avoid the ‘people’ things and be lost in the wonderful world of technical machines, gadgets and devices.
So what would it take to create a balance, because having excellent customer experiences guarantees customer return, without which the techie would not have the actual work to work on in the lab or on their technical bench? Techies also often deal with internal customers who need to be in harmony with them to perform their specific non tech roles, or where applicable, manage external customer expectations. Given that most technical teams are generally extremely busy with time constraint on the technical projects they are working on very high, a win-win is required to have them focus on delivering on their objectives whilst at the same time maintaining a customer orientation.
The key to unlock this challenge is to seek to deliberately inspire the tech team to re-engineer their perception of the customer and to create a deliberate attitude shift with the end game in mind. Customer satisfaction for both colleagues and external customers should be viewed as the final solution to the ‘original problem’. And that beyond the ‘hardware’ that they so love and admire working on, that the ‘software’ element is also important. That they need to brush up their communication skills and hive off some time to provide some insights and explanations that would have their customer more knowledgeable and educated on the technical matter at hand. The better the insights, the less troublesome their colleagues/customers will be.
The delicate balance between dispensing of technical duty and ensuring good customer service lies directly in the hands of the technical team with the leadership of the team bearing the chief responsibility of inspiring the team to look beyond the internal, and see success beyond working technical outcomes. In as much as is possible, the tech team need to walk in the customers shoes and try to figure out how best to present the updates/information/progress etc to enable better understanding. Once this bigger picture has been painted, customer complaints will reduce and the temptation to label them ‘Those Technical People’ – that is never said in a positive light – will diminish
Ultimately all tech teams in the end are working to serve the customer. All the tech inventions, innovations and creations are being designed or revolutionized to serve the end customer. The teams need to be exposed to the customer’s thinking in order to communicate with, and serve them better. The leaders of tech teams need in addition to all the technical training, and update meetings to work on product design and project progress, to have meetings to specifically talk about the customer. The better the tech team understands the customer the better the internal and external customer service. Better service leads to more streamlined processes and ultimately satisfied customers. Satisfied customers increase the organization’s bottom line. A conversation any leader worth their salt will find worth investing in. Train tech teams on customer experience and the current dilemma will be resolved. No need to build a new technical invention to marry tech and customer experience; just a customization of the current version will yield the right solution for re-launch…