Indian IT services companies take pride in themselves in building a service oriented mentality over the years, and perfecting the art of customer management. Countless people have highlighted the term “Customer Handling” in their resumes and public profiles. Many people rightfully claim to have perfected the art and science of customer management. There are a number of reasons attributed to this – our genes, the socio-economic set-up, the general Indian mild behavior and our English speaking ability. The unanimous result is that we have turned out to be the perfect hosts to major MNCs and other global companies of the world. However, as the world moved, customers got accustomed to this perfect “hosting” behavior and started asking for something more. That’s where the topic of “Customer Expectation management” came.
Let me explain this term through an example. Recently, I visited Varanasi and was on the banks of the river Ganges. Many people approached me to lend their boats on hire. What amazed me was that, none of them were selling the typical qualities that one expects while buying services on a trip – Politeness of the salesperson, good rates, condition of the article being contracted, etc. Instead, all of them were busy explaining how the evening “Aarti” would look terrific, if viewed from their boat at a particular distance, from a particular angle.
They exactly knew why I was there and what my expectations were. They knew very well that for me, the quality of their boats, their polite behavior, the rates or any other hospitality services were not the clinching factors. I was only looking for that divine experience of watching the “Aarti” live from a certain angle and scouting for that boatman who will manage my expectation best. Now translate the same thing to our business.
After working with customers for more than a decade, all our softer aspects have been well recognized and well appreciated. But beyond a point, they have limited impact as customers take those for granted. Almost all our customers have a very good opinion about our hospitality, the way we talk and approach them, the promptness and the readiness we show in replying to them, etc. I have personally got good feedback on several occasions from our customers on how well they were treated at our campuses during their visit. But are all these translating into dollar business? I doubt.
What matters today is how well we manage their “expectations” in terms of code quality, timely delivery, honest communication, useful feedback and other tangible items. The onus of meeting these expectations lies on everybody in a particular account, starting from the delivery manager to the junior most engineers in the team. In no way do I mean that we should break away from our culture led approach, but we should supplement it with our expertise led approach.
We need to build deep domain knowledge in our selected areas and show our ability to meet customer expectations in the form of hardcore deliverables. That glib talking in English is not going to work anymore as our neighbors are fast catching us on that. We need to make this transition from “Customer Management” to “Customers’ Expectation Management” sooner than later. Let the journey begin today!