A story about extraordinary service

Excellent customer service“100% customer satisfaction is our goal”, “We listen to our customers”, “We are industry leaders in <insert market area>”.

We have all seen these claims – they are everywhere.

Perhaps you also use some of these? (in your case they are of course absolutely true :-)). In our case here at e-conomic, I know for sure that we still have some of these phrases lying around on our online media.

But the problem is that they often have little resemblance to reality – or at least only partially. They are expressions of intent and visions more than they are actual facts.

Maybe they are expressions from an old marketing culture – perhaps because everyone else uses them. In any case, the effect is often that trust suffers when companies speak about their own outstanding qualities.

After working with countless suppliers and partners in the past 15 years, I have experienced only a handful of companies that truly do put customers first and really are highly skilled in their area.

Now, let me share an experience I had recently with one of these rare companies – Tron Systems in the UK.

To the story

I contact Tron Systems in the UK by email to find out if they are able to make a special piece of code and to get a quote for the job. The job is about a DSAPI filter for our Lotus Domino websites that acts as a URL rewriter for some URL patterns.

The details of the task are not important for this story (if you are dying to know more, here is more details about the DSAPI filter on our Lotus Domino servers), but the reaction from Tron Systems is.

Here is what happened:

First contact

Within a few hours of my enquiry email, Tron Systems replies. Their tone is very forthcoming, expresses an ability to do the task, gives me an indication of the amount of work involved and asks for more details.

Do you know that feeling you get when you speak with someone that just knows their stuff 100%? They are called experts.

Tron Systems’ reply leaves me with the impression that these guys know what they were talking about. So far, so good.

“Did you consider other products?”

After I send some more details, Tron Systems gets back to me and reflects on my concern about the impact on page load speed.

While they do not make any promises, they indicate that the likely impact on page load speed will be less than a few milliseconds (which later would prove to be absolutely true).

Furthermore – and here was the first real eye opener – they ask if I had considered other ways of doing this (installing a reverse proxy in front of Lotus Domino etc.). They even link to some of these solutions!

Sure, I had considered these and many other ways of solving our problem before turning to DSAPI filters and Tron Systems. But a supplier suggesting specific alternatives is a rare experience for me.

Could it be that these guys were genuine? That they really wanted the best solution for me?

Checking specifications and quoting

Next pleasant surprise: The initial email dialogue ends with Tron Systems addressing my concerns and questions in detail.

They write up the specifications for the task, give me a quote and check with me to see if the specifications and answers are satisfying. Oh yes – they are satisfying.

From my initial contact to clear specifications and the accepted quote, a few days have now passed.

Of course I cannot be 100% sure that I will get the solution I want. As you know, things can initially look promising and the end result still be a mess, as I have seen many times before.  So let’s see.

Enter: The Developer

This is where it often gets messy: Key Account Manager builds up great expectations, then the challenges start when he leaves you with developers or technicians with tunnel vision and sub-standard communication skills 🙂

But not in this case.

The developer that takes over demonstrates the same high class of service and is very forthcoming. He even communicates amazingly clearly and precisely.

The prototype is delivered for me to review together with the full documentation, instructions for use and test results – as agreed, but still exceeding my expectations.

I have some technical issues installing the new code, and after that I also have some corrections and clarifications.

The developer makes the corrections, responds thoroughly to any issues or questions that I have and will not leave me alone before I positively respond that I am happy with the result. How about that??

Got the solution up and running – and more

So, I got just what I wanted. A long needed solution to my technical problem of rewriting URLs in Lotus Domino, along with fail-safe operation and an immeasurable impact on page load time. It is running in production now on our websites and serves its purpose very nicely.

And, I got even more: A textbook example of good service, exceeding expectations, keeping promises and over-delivering. The thing is, while many companies know this mantra, very few live by it. Most are not even trying to.

Either Tron Systems are very good at this, or they are just genuinely concerned about their customers. I think that it’s the latter and it serves as inspiration (a lesson, even) for all of us, including someone like me who is also in the business of selling products and services.

So does it pay off to deliver an extraordinary service?

It looks like it. Marketing strategies have in the last years been on the move towards more focus on customer satisfaction. Some of the explanation is more transparency and exploding activity in social media, where people share their experiences for everyone to see. This makes it increasingly harder for companies to perform badly and get away with it.

But I don’t really think the few rare companies like Tron Systems have chosen their marketing strategy as a result of an A/B test, and it’s telling which pays off most.

I think they are focused on customer satisfaction because that is how they view the world, and how they want to behave in it.

Ian and David @Tron Systems: Thank you very much for a job well done and an extraordinary experience. It was remarkable (you know, worth remarking about) to an extent that I just had to share this with the world. I’m looking forward to work with you again sometime.

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