The first step in fixing the customer's to listen. Completely listen to what the end user is trying to tell you.In today’s ever-changing market, the service provider must seek new ways to separate themselves from their competition. Sales forces are under increasing pressure to gain ground in markets that seem to be at saturation, and customer retention is a must. One of the keys to customer retention is the ability of a technician to “fix the customer”. Communication is the key to this process, and I have a few pointers that may help.
The first step in “fixing the customer” is to listen. Completely listen to what the end user is trying to tell you. Remove your technician mufflers so to speak and hear what the end user is really having trouble with. I was once told that the definition of a print defect is the difference between what the printer is doing and what the customer perceives the printer not doing correctly. Sometimes, the printer is malfunctioning, and can be repaired. Other times the printer is not designed to do what the customer is expecting it to do. A perfect example is an end user trying to print 80 pound cardstock out of the tray 2 on a H.P. Laserjet 4000. While the printer is not designed to move that heavy weight paper from the paper tray, the end user may have been successfully printing that paper from the tray 2 for a substantial period to have the perception that the printer can do this successfully in all cases.
The second step is to question the end user about his or her expectations of the printer. Simply asking the end user a few additional questions past a typical interaction, such as “where is it jamming”, can help you to understand what the end user is expecting the printer to accomplish. Try asking some other questions like: “Is this the paper you normally use in this tray”, or “How often do you print this type of print job”? Once you have established that this has been a typical print job for the end user, you will need to establish the level of expectation that the end user has established with that process. Ask some more questions regarding how long they have been using the paper, or one of my favorites; “Is there any possibility that the type of paper has changed at all recently”? The responses will tell you if you have some expectations to overcome and give you some clues as to how to address properly the expectation.
The third step is by far the easiest, but the most under utilized. Repeat the problem with all the important details back to the customer. This gives you a chance to make sure that you are clear on all the aspects of the trouble, and also gives the end user a chance to know that you have heard all the problems that are occurring with the machine.
When you have determined that a problem is not in the printer and there is no repair required then you should bring some information to the customer that will explain your findings. In the case of the 4000 jamming out of tray 2 with cardstock a copy of the page in the manual which explains the minimum and maximum paper weights recommended for the tray is especially helpful. Present your information regarding the limitations of the printer in a way that reinforces the expectation of the customer. Try saying “Mr. Customer, Hewlett Packard printers are amazing pieces of equipment, and they are certainly very versatile, but in this case I am afraid that the paper you are using is out of specifications for that paper tray”. Don’t leave the customer simply with the belief that their printing needs are out of the question in some way; be prepared with options. In this case I would recommend suggesting the tray 1, or replacing the rollers to help the customer meet their needs in printing.
But the last step is missed frequently. Make suggestions for a printer that is capable of performing the printing in the way he or she would prefer. This is not simply a sales piece, but an effort to make sure the end user is aware that his or her needs are important. The end user must feel as if they have received a real service for the money they pay for the service call, and these few simple tasks can make the end user absolutely certain that the technician has done more than was required.
These steps can help the service provider win the wars of perception. The perception of the end user that they have received real value for their money can make or break your service department, and a few steps can help your service department both retain customers and open possible sales leads. While these things may seem an extravagance for the busy tech; the truth is that if we don’t fully “fix the customer” we may not be so busy in the future.
About the Author: David Burchell holds SMP, ISP, CIS, Master Technician certifications and is the Director Of Support & Training for Metrofuser. He has been in the Printer Service Industry for 9 Years working as a technician, Service Manager and Director of Service for a INC500 recipient. Under his tenure his service departments grew 200%+ monthly and managed contracts nationwide. David served in the US Army in Desert Storm as a tanker and holds OEM certifications with Hewlett Packard, XEROX, Lexmark, Brother, Tektronix and Copystar. David can be reached at [email protected] www.metrofuser.com.