By Katie Nemec, Vice President of Operations, Keystone IT
Have you ever been to Disney World or Disney Land? It is magic. I am a mother of 3 and a Disney enthusiast. Every couple of years, for a family vacation, my family of five loads on a plane and makes the journey from St. Louis to Orlando. I stress about packing, keeping my kids entertained, the cost, the time away from work, and all the other logistical elements to our trip. Then we arrive. When I see the look on my children’s face as we walk in, I know it was all worth it.
Disney’s magic is more than just about characters, underground tunnels, and rides. These things are all part of a bigger picture of fantastic customer service. They have an ability to make each child and person there feel as though they are the most important person in the park. I have heard it said that this level of customer service is not an option in every industry – that the characters and rides allow them to do things for the customers not available to most businesses. However, I argue that because we do not have the availability of silly characters in our work, it is that much more important that our customers feel our commitment to making their experience a positive one.
As the Vice President of Operations at Keystone IT, I have worked every day to drive our customer service – to make each client and each caller feel as though they are the most important person in our world. There are several Disney strategies I have adopted and implemented throughout our team. Using the following Disney strategies I have been able to improve our customer experience and create a loyalty to Keystone IT.
Everyday “Little Wows” Build Up to Make “Big Wows”
It is the little things we do that make the biggest impact. It is important that as a company, we go above and beyond in often simple ways. We have implemented a proactive support model, where we identify and resolve most issues before they create downtime for the client. We have a team dedicated to monitoring technological resources for our clients and addressing any alerts as soon as they arrive. When we are not able to proactively address a problem, and a critical issue arises, our service desk is in contact with the client on a regular basis to update them on the status of the resolution.
Create a Brand Promise
At Keystone IT, we believe in “compassionate innovation.” These two words guide our work. Keystone IT is not a technology company. We are a healthcare and education company. We know we can change the world through technology and innovation. We care deeply about creating solutions and solving problems. However, we also know and understand the human aspect of what we do. The outcomes and lives of the patients and students our clients serve are our top concern. As such, our brand is directly aligned with that of our clients. We make a promise to them to continue to keep those patients and students in our hearts and help our clients improve their lives.
Control Your Brand
Being true to our brand in everything we do from the client phone call to implementing a project to representing our company at trade presentations is what distinguishes Keystone IT from our competition. We have established the Keystone IT voice, which calls on our staff to express certain characteristics of our brand through behavior and communication. People experience our brand every time they interact with a team member or with our marketing. The following five traits are the elements of our brand voice: caring, innovative, clear, expert and honest. While we rarely reflect all five elements at once, we strive to never contradict any element. For example, when giving a presentation showing the expert characteristic, our industry consultants should never be perceived as uncaring. Through this voice, we reflect who we are and what we value as a company.
Don’t Focus on Just the End Result, But the Step-By-Step Experience
At Keystone IT, we work to ensure that every step of the experience is exceptional for our clients and potential clients. From our first interaction with a client to onboarding to continued support and consulting, we work every day to ensure that a client’s experience with our team is positive, personalized, and pursuing common goals. We regularly review our processes and evaluate our team members to ensure that we maintain this level of service throughout each step of our experience.
Put Your Employees First
If our clients and our clients’ clients are the heart of our company, the Keystone IT employees are the soul. Above all else, the leadership team’s most important job is providing our employees with the necessary training, the appropriate positions and the potential for growth. Every employee at Keystone IT is empowered to do what needs to be done to accomplish any task. They are empowered to bring together any team member or department to ensure customer success. They are empowered to “pull the red cord” when something does not feel right or a process is failing a client. In addition to empowerment to do their job, we also find that it is important to help them plan their future. From their first day on the job, we begin having conversations surrounding career growth. We work with our teams to help them achieve their goals and in the meantime work to ensure that their needs are being met.
Know & Study Your Audience
At Keystone IT, we have found that it is imperative to our success that we know all we can about our clients and potential clients. We have hired experts from within healthcare and education to help keep us up-to-date on trends and needs. Furthermore, we engage in candid and extensive conversations with our clients to keep a strong grasp on their goals and goals from others in their industries.
Over the last year, we have invested in a marketing department who has begun to do industry and market analysis to help us communicate in ways that ensure an understanding between Keystone IT and our clients. We have found that clear communication not only drives new business it also enhances customer satisfaction and retention.
Create Strong Customer-Employee Interactions
The interactions that our clients have with our employees are the basis for all client experiences with Keystone. Therefore, it is important that those interactions be strong. Our employees are trained to be simple, realistic, actionable and indicative.
Simplistic – When speaking with clients, Keystone IT employees are easy to understand and using language and words that the clients will know.
Realistic – When setting goals or benchmarks, Keystone IT employees use timeframes that can consistently be achieved.
Actionable – At Keystone IT, we never end a conversation within our teams or with our clients without clear action items for each party.
Indicative – Each Keystone IT employee is encouraged to outline for the client what Keystone IT’s role is in each project, including saying what we can do, what we cannot do, and why.
Learn to Say Yes
At Keystone IT, we do not like to say “no.” Hearing “no” can alter a client’s view of our company. When a project seems to be out of our normal operations or requesting something we have not done in the past, we pull together a cross-departmental team of experts to assess our ability and work to turn that “no” into a “yes.” By expanding our projects, we have been able to increase our market share and our clients’ overall satisfaction.
As a company, our customer service is not perfect. However, we work every day to improve it. We study competitive businesses and businesses known for their customer experience. In addition to Disney, I am regularly studying and learning from the practices of Zappos, Amazon, Apple, Marriot, Southwest Airlines, Ace Hardware and many others. Improving the client experience is an ever evolving process. It takes a lot of work, dedication and focus, but there is nothing more important to our operations as we grow as a company.