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Work on a Service Desk? Say What You’ll Do, then Do What You Said

By | November 24, 2015 in Service Desk

Customer satisfaction at the service desk

Customer satisfaction isn’t only about the quality of the service you deliver, it’s just as much about how well you set and then meet customer’s expectations.

The most important thing to get right when you’re providing services is to say what you’ll deliver and then deliver what your customers expect. If you reliably meet customers’ expectations – every time – then those customers will value your service. If, on the other hand, you let customers down then they will be dissatisfied with your service, even if their expectations were unreasonable and could never have been met.

Setting Expectations

People who work on a service desk/help desk have a great opportunity to delight customers, by simply making sure that customers know what is going to happen, so that when you deliver services to them they get what they were expecting. On the other hand, if you set expectations incorrectly, or fail to deliver the service that you said you would, that leads to dissatisfaction.

I recently phoned my broadband supplier to ask them to switch my internet connection to a different phone line. The person on the service desk told me that this would take 30 days, and they immediately sent me an email with an exact timetable for the switch, saying that they would deliver a new modem the day before the switch, and I should return the old modem in the same packaging.  I was pretty sure that the two modems were the same so this seemed a bit wasteful, but I guess they must have had their reasons.

The modem arrived on the appointed day, and next day the new broadband connection came to life and it all worked first time. About two days later, after the new connection had stabilized, they disconnected the broadband from the original line, so I packed up the modem and returned it to them. I was a happy customer.

I would obviously have preferred it if they could have done this without such a long delay, but they set my expectations correctly so this wasn’t a deal breaker. Now imagine my reaction to exactly the same situation if the service desk told me that it would take just one week, and then it took 30 days. Or if they told me that the swap would happen on one particular date and then it happened two days earlier at a time when I wasn’t around and couldn’t test the connection. The reason I was delighted with this service was because the supplier did exactly what they said they would do, exactly when they said they would do it.

Another recent service experience of mine was less satisfactory. I had bought a new fridge and when it was delivered there was obvious damage to the door. The delivery people told me that they would return it to the warehouse and I should hear from them within two days. Three days later I phoned to ask what had happened to my fridge and they seemed to know nothing about it, but promised to call me back within 24 hours. The next day I didn’t hear from them, so I phoned back and they expressed surprise that no one had returned my call and again promised to get back to me within 24 hours. The next day I phoned a senior manager in the company to complain. I explained that my complaint was not about the damaged fridge, these things happen, but about their failure to meet commitments to call me back. This time my issue was dealt with, and a new fridge was dispatched. It didn’t actually take very long for me to get my fridge, but I was not a happy customer because the organization failed to get the basics of customer satisfaction right. All they needed to do was tell me what to expect, and then meet my expectations.

How good is your service desk at setting customer expectations? Do you make sure that your customers know what is going to happen, and then deliver what you have promised?


Stuart Rance

About Stuart Rance

Stuart is an ITSM and security consultant, working with clients all round the world. He is one of the authors of ITIL 4, as well as an author of ITIL Practitioner, ITIL Service Transition, and Resilia: Cyber Resilience Best Practice. He is also a trainer, teaching standard and custom courses in ITSM and information security management, and an examiner helping to create ITIL and other exams. Now that his children have all left home, he has plenty of time on his hands for contributing to our blog - lucky us!

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