|TriCore at our SAPPHIRE NOW Booth.|
Not too long ago, I sat in the conference halls of the Orange County Convention Center, joined by thousands of peers in the technology space. I had the fortune of listening to the event’s keynote speaker, SAP CEO Bill McDermott, present on something we often hear in the technology space, but don’t often hear framed in such an impactful way.
You see, we are inundated with conversations about UX. We hear a lot about “superior customer service.” We are told that we’re living in the age of customer-centricity. We are advised to “put the customer first.” And yet, rarely does the conversation boil down to empathy. There, in that auditorium, however, empathy was the focal point of discussion.
Empathy. We’re taught it in kindergarten. It echoes throughout social circles. But with business responsibility, pressures to meet deadlines, wider geographic distances separating company and client, and a myriad of obligations and perceptions that rise to the surface of business as we know it, the day-to-day pushes back the “put yourself in someone else’s shoes” mantra that was repeated to us when we were young.
Sales team may more readily embody this term, as the living and breathing representatives of business who have firsthand exposure to the customer’s greatest problems. These sales teams are critical, as the face of business; but they shouldn’t be the only employees taking on the cause of customers as if they too were experiencing their issues themselves. For empathy to be incorporated into the daily activities a company takes on, it must be top of mind for everyone. It must be repeated. It must be personified by the highest rankings, trickling down to the most junior staff member. This consistency is what separates good companies and great companies, it’s what translates to customer loyalty, customer retention, and bigger and better programs that extend relationships between company and client.
At TriCore, we know just how important empathy is to long-term success: for technology, for business, for innovation to thrive. But how does empathy truly play out for managed services? How can IT – from infrastructure gurus deep in the trenches of hardware to head-in-the-cloud developers and everyone in between – be immersed in a truly empathetic customer perspective while simultaneously meeting the more tactical expectations of their role? And for SAP services, in particular, how can empathy penetrate the daily attention customers receive and the services delivered? I’ve summarized some takeaways that can help companies better know what to expect – and what to demand – from modern outsourced services, so that they can in turn bask in the glow of a partner who truly understands them, based on a relationship rooted in empathy:
- Service doesn’t have a punch out card. Managed service providers have to work to win their customers’ business every day. When everything works the way it’s supposed to, then we know we’ve done our job.
- Different talent is needed to make cloud adoption accessible to the business user. And this talent doesn’t grow on trees. It has to be developed just like any other skill. This is why IT outsourcing is increasingly attractive to companies as new skillsets are required, shifting the resources to attract and retain this type of talent. MSPs should be making the investment in highly skilled developers, so that companies don’t have to start from scratch to fill this need.
- Technical support should work more closely with functional support. Increasingly, we are seeing the marriage of these two support skills. The best support organizations should deliver both so that companies can have full confidence that their issue will be resolved – no matter where it’s coming from.
- More cooks in the kitchen means more room for miscommunication, more complex processes, and less agility. This is why it’s so important to consider a managed service provider that can handle the entire stack – cloud, data base, application technical support, functional support and development. Being able to avoid juggling too many vendors is a huge advantage for in-house IT.
- Certifications are more than a stamp of approval. And they aren’t like “participation trophies,” either. They have to be earned with inspection of documentation and process by authorized auditors. The investment of time and money is often underestimated. But the value shouldn’t be!
In the end, empathy requires buy-in. It must be authentic to each individual able to find the vantage point of another – the customer – and it requires a deep knowledge of choice, alternative options and actions able to be taken to redirect issues in the best way possible. In the IT world, there is a natural correlation between empathy and knowledge, between technical skill and the capacity to translate those skills into viable responses to common business problems, large or small. If a soft skill like empathy is met at the IT level as much as it is at the sales and service level, truly transformative solutions can be developed. Being in the business of IT services, I know these employees can be hard to find and harder to attract. But they’re out there, and we’re committed to rallying them to our team. We’re here to connect companies to that type of talent, so that nothing slips through the cracks. That’s the kind of customer service we can be proud of.