The Pursuit of GreatER Customer Service

In the highly competitive (and dare I say commoditized) web hosting industry if you speak to any hosting company and ask them what makes them different from their competitors I guarantee you’ll get the same response:  Customer Service, it’s our people, it’s how we treat you, it’s that we’re you’re business partner, we’re there for you, etc.  At Applied Innovations, it’s no different!  After all, Customer Service is one of the core tenets our business is built on.

Great Customer Service is never perfected.  It’s only through constantly striving to improve on the customer experience that you ultimately deliver great customer service and even then you still need to look back and say “That was a great customer experience but what could we have done just that much better to make it an even GreatER customer experience?” Because that’s what it’s going to take to compete.

Instant feedback on a GreatER customer experience

We are always looking at ways we can improve upon our customer experience and a few weeks ago we started experimenting with a couple ideas.  We routinely run customer satisfaction surveys (in fact we’re due for one shortly) and they give us a pretty good snapshot of how things are going at that point but not how we did yesterday, today, tomorrow, etc.  So the idea was born that we wanted to implement instant, ongoing customer feedback surveys! First we started building out what features we’d like:

  • Ratings specific to each support engineer – so they could be individually held accountable for specific tickets.
  • Ratings by department & company – hey bragging rights! Internal, external, at the water cooler or the family barbeque … you get the idea.
  • Needs to be simple – most systems had a scale of 1-10, 1-5. I am never quite sure is 1 better than 10 or 10 better than 1 … eh forget it! I’m not bothering with this thing
  • Reflect the customer’s experience / feelings – Let’s face it, we’re emotional creatures and like it or not a lot of our actions are based on our emotions.
  • The ability to leave more information – In the event one of us slipped, feedback (negative or positive) from a customer is always a gift!
  • Easy to implement and easy for the customer!

We knew something had to be out there already and sure enough we came across a blog post by the folks at 37signals on their system.  We did a little more searching and found the folks at nicereply.com had a blog post on how to do the same thing with their application … SCORE!

A couple hours later we had the code loaded up and integrated into our signatures in our email/ticket support system!

How we’re measuring it

Our ticketing system today is based off of Kayako.com’s supportsuite version 3.0. It’s pretty much become an industry standard ticketing system. What we’ve done is inside each email reply you get from one of us is a link at the footer:

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Once you click on that link, you’re taken to a simple page:

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You simply click on the smiley face that reflects ‘how you feel’ about the response you got

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Leave any comments (if you like) and click send rating! Our little app connects to the nicereply API and leaves the information for our management team.  Then the management team can go in and review responses, read customer feedback (remember, positive or negative it’s always a gift and helps us improve) and review support engineer performance as an individual, a team, and a company to see how we’re doing.

So what’s your score Jess?

Yeah, I know.  What’s your score Jess?  (I bet he’s mentioning this because they’re kicking butt and he just wants to brag how great they are…) Actually, it’s not bad but it’s not as good as it needs to be.  As I mentioned, the thirst for greatER customer service is part of my DNA. I want it and I want it bad and we have some work.

Here’s how we did in February (we launched a few days before that)

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57 ratings with an average rating of 9.68. With 2 customers that gave us “normal” and 1 that gave us a “poor”.   That’s the good news, the bad news is so far this month we’ve had 49 ratings and the average is a 9.02 (yeah, I’m not happy at all but the month isn’t over yet and we’ll work to get that above last month’s numbers).

But that’s really only part of it, the really juicy stuff is what you, our customers and online business partners are saying. The feedback we’re getting is INVALUABLE! Here’s a few examples from this week:

“Patiently worked with me until the problem was solved.”

“Great service!”

“I work with applied i a lot. Hosting is hosting, I stay for the service.”

“An unusual problem troubleshooted and solved in 5 minutes. Can’t get any better than that..”

The list goes on. Of course, we’ve got some room for improvement too but that’s why this is the pursuit of greatER customer service because I know we’re delivering great customer service, we just want greatER customer service.

The Pursuit of GreatER Customer Service Needs Your Help

In our quest to constantly provide GreatER customer service, I need to ask for your help. If we want to not only continue to provide great customer service but improve it and become the hosting provider with GreatER customer service then we need to ask that you take the time to click that link in the email replies from time to time and let us know how we’re doing right then, right there.

So on your next ticket, please take the 15 seconds to let us know how it’s going.

Thanks, Jess

About the Author

Jess Coburn

It's Jess's responsibility as CEO and Founder of Applied Innovations to set the direction of Applied Innovations services to ensure that as a company we're consistently meeting the needs of our customers to help drive their success. In his spare time, Jess enjoys many of the things that made him a geek to begin with. That includes sexy new hardware, learning new technology and even a videogame or two! When you can’t find him at the office (which admittedly is rare), you’ll likely find him at the grill or in front of his smoker getting ready for some lip-smacking ribs to enjoy with his wife and two kids.

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