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The New Normal for Service Leaders: Retaining and building customer relationships in an increasingly virtual world

 

By now it’s clear to business leaders that service delivery has been transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The ‘new normal’ means that service people are having less face-to-face contact with customers while at the same time, the presence of remote servicing technologies is accelerating significantly.

It’s long been acknowledged that Services is uniquely well-positioned to develop deep, value-adding relationships with customers due to two factors. One is their access to customers. Service people interact with customers more than any other group. In many companies, Service people ‘touch’ the customer 10 times more every month than Sales people.

The second factor is the nature of those interactions. Service people are considered by customers to be problem solvers and advisors with no other agenda than to help. TSIA (the Technology Services Industry Association) calls this “Relationship Equity” and it is extremely important now as service interactions become more virtual and can even be replaced by remote diagnostics done with virtual and artificial reality and/or intelligence tools.

Interacting with customers on non-technical issues has often been a challenge for technical service people. As a result, getting to softer or even hidden issues that a customer has can be missed. For example, a customer may not really understand a new technology but be too embarrassed to admit it. This can lead to technical problems not getting solved because the service person couldn’t uncover all of the technical issues. Imagine how much more often these hidden issues will interfere with effective troubleshooting as technology becomes more complicated and customers less knowledgeable.

This is why Service organizations need to rapidly increase the non-technical, customer relationship skills of their service people, especially when they implement remote and virtual service technologies. Ignoring the need for enhanced customer relationship skills ultimately puts your relationships with customers at risk, exactly at the moment when those relationships are most fragile.

At Global Partners Training, we have been enabling global companies to deal with transformative business challenges for more than 25 years. Our vision is to “Transform relationships that matter” for your Services employees and customers. Contact us to learn more.