One of the major follies in the technology field is not listening to the customer. People can be belligerent, selfish, or otherwise disrespectful. One of the cornerstones of my career so far has been keeping my empathy, sitting down with someone, and resolving the root of the issue rather than what’s at the surface. Sometimes it just means the crew thinks I take longer than normal, which can be true, and other times it can lead to substantial rewards.
I worked with a customer through a hardware upgrade. One piece unrelated to my work didn’t work correctly after the swap. “Should I stay or should I go?” My goal with any situation is to thoroughly resolve issues, and if they are not my own to get the momentum going to have the issues resolved by the appropriate people, so I stuck with the problem. We were chatting about the new mouse I swapped in because the old one was no longer compatible. She liked it but asked about the possibility of a new ergonomic keyboard. It was worn. I asked some probing questions to find that there were business reasons to swap out the keyboard – the keys that were worn off made it harder to type and some keys occasionally stuck – so I checked to see if I could swap out the keyboard. I could.
I did and received a nice email from the customer the next morning:
I sent an email to John and wanted to send one to you as well. Anthony is did such a great job on my new computer I wanted to let you both know. I have never met him before however, I have to tell you that was a very slick install and the only hiccup didn’t have anything to do with him it was an [proprietary application] issue with sign on. Seriously went to lunch came back and if it wasn’t for [proprietary application] I would of signed on and never even know I had a new computer installed. He even did a couple of tweaks here and there and my sign on this morning was unbelievably fast! Nice young man very respectful and personable.
This email went up the chain and everyone involved expressed appreciation.
Conventional thought is to feel good about kudos but leave it at that. I’ve learned that if you don’t toot your own horn to the right folks, sometimes, no one will. Since I am working as a contractor with a recruiter that is not in this business system, I checked to see if I could forward the full email chain along and I could as long as I omitted any proprietary information. “This is important information for your personnel file.”
The next time you’re thinking about how you want to quickly wrap up customer communication, keep in mind that the work is done when the customer says it’s done. Although customers can be excessively needy, remember that you’ve scratched their back. They can do the same.