“EMC is a company that keeps a sharp focus on the human aspect in the business process, in interplay with lots of technical and automated systems.”

“After many years’ experience, your on-site support is still the most efficient and knowledgeable I have ever worked with.” These are just a few of the quotes from clients of ours after having an issue resolved by EMC’s Customer Engineers. As an adamant advocate of the Total Customer Experience (TCE), I regularly scan the input we get from the ‘Field Transaction Surveys’ that our customers fill out after each incident. It always delights me to see how positive people are about the assistance they are getting.

Let’s not forget the state of mind of these customers: they have just faced an issue with a product of a service, but they have gotten that problem solved. I often make the reflection that the negative feelings caused by the temporary consequences of an issue, apparently seem to vanish as soon as the case is resolved. In fact, the positive vibes about the way an issue has been handled, stick longer in people’s minds than the initial frustration with what went wrong.

Is automation going too far?

This is just human psychology. And we are all human, and even if we spend our professional lives thinking and talking about hard- and software, there’s a heart beating in every one of us. In our salespeople, in our marketing team, in anyone who has direct contact with a customer. Even if we encourage our business partners to use automation to the max, when dealing with real people, we should all focus on the human aspect of it.

Am I arguing against automation and high-powered tools? Of course not, using the right technologies, we can already delight the customer. A recent survey by the Customer Contact Council demonstrated that reducing customer effort to solve a problem, increases customer loyalty. People hate it when they need to key in information they know you already possess, or when they have to go through numerous steps that are clearly only meant for the vendor’s comfort, not for the client’s. Automation actually frees up time for more human interactions!

Technology is great, but as the saying goes: a fool with a tool is still a fool.

Employees with an attitude

Above all, TCE is an attitude thing. As a Vice-President for Europe West, I am responsible for thousands of EMC employees. I want each of these individuals to have just one focus, and that’s a focus on serving the companies that use our products on a regular basis, and caring for the people who work there. It’s a message I repeat over and over, since it is very easy for any organization to fall into what is called ‘the comfort trap’ and start doing things that bring us most comfort, rather than the customer. This is especially the case when dealing with enterprises that have been loyal to us for a long time, and I am proud to say that that is a majority of our customers. We are all trained to be as efficient as possible but, from time to time, we need to take a step back and wonder who we are building this efficiency for: for our own comfort? Or for the customer’s comfort?

Many companies – especially in the hi-tech business – are very much focused on internal systems and getting these right. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but an internal focus may cause us to take our eyes off the ball. Customers that sense they are not getting the right level of attention are easily lured to a competitor. And as marketing gurus Don Peppers and Martha Rogers tell us: “Without customers you don’t have a business, you have a hobby.”

In the long run, customer focus is not a goal in itself. Happy clients are beneficial to a corporation’s bottom line too. Being successful ourselves must allow them, without exception, to be successful as well. In a world that has gone digital, everyone has become more demanding. That’s the case for our own clients, but also for our customers’ customers. Helping them shine will make us shine too.

Let me leave you with another quote. “Keep doing what you’re doing, because you are doing it right.” That’s exactly what we intend to do…