Solving Problems or Closing Tickets

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 04:00 AM with 2 comments

Problems happen. If you ask most people it is not the problem itself, but in how it is resolved. To achieve this, there is commonly a process involved, and depending on what vendor or company you are working with, they will have their own method of a resolution process. In most cases this method is customer-centric, focused around not only resolving the problem but ensuring the customer or client is satisfied with how it was resolved. In those rare but abundant cases, it is merely a process of closing tickets in a queue, which does nothing for the customer.

As I am writing about this, you can guess it has happened to me a number of times over the years. A recent series of occurrences with a vendor has had this thought simmering in the back of my head, only to have it come to the forefront when I found out the lack of customer interest permeates other departments within this vendor, and finally I am putting fingers to keyboard on it.

The Customer Doesn’t Care What’s Behind the Curtain

Does it always seem that you, the customer, have a better handle on a problem than the vendor? Whenever you connect with the vendor – by phone, email, etc. – does it seem like you are going back to square one with them? And if you ever bring it up to them, they will certainly blame it on things you have no control over – their problem reporting system, the fact that one of their staff on a different shift did not enter all of the information, and so forth.

Note these are their problems, but now that you have to reinvent the problem with them, they by default become yours too. The missing piece here is the overall concern and caring on the part of the vendor’s staff. I would bet US$1.00 that whenever the tech support person is documenting a problem report, they do not add to it there is missing information or the customer is disappointed in the resolution process. I would double the bet and say they do not fire off an email to a manager for them to review the case, with concern the customer may take their business elsewhere. It is often the personal interactions with staff which cause someone to go elsewhere – think about offshored customer service and you really know what I mean.

The specific issue which caused me pain with this vendor was with a tech support issue. I had logged a ticket on a Thursday, did not reply on Friday and when I went to on Monday, I got a returned email message stating the problem ticket was closed. What? When I called and confronted the support staff about this, I was blatantly told they set all tickets to expire after 72 hours, and they felt there was no reason to keep a ticket open in their queue if it really didn’t need to be there. When I told them the issue was neither resolved and that this policy was the stupidest thing I had ever heard, I was simply told to submit a new ticket.

As Long as the Customer Thinks They Are Right…

Legendary retailer Marshall Field is quoted in saying the customer is always right. I am sure Field did not mean that the customer is always, 100% correct and the vendor is in the wrong to question them. Rather, this is a call to action for the vendor to hold in high regard the concerns of the customer and strive to resolve any issue they may have. If you feel like you are being treated well, you are then a happy customer. If the opposite, you are looking to spend your money elsewhere. This opposite must permeate your organization, especially to those on the front-line who deal with customers.

As the Holiday Inn Express sign stated in an earlier post, it’s the little things. When you think in this detail you realize what type of business you are truly in. If it isn’t obvious, it is not about the internal process, but about the external customers, the ones who provide you with the money to fund your internal process. Your customer doesn’t care about your processes, just their problem. And you should be thinking like them as well.

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