customer service

The keys to excellence in customer service

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No matter who you are or what business you are in, you’ve almost certainly had at least one terrible customer-service experience. And I’m willing to bet that you’ve replaced any vendor that consistently dropped the ball from a service perspective—even if you were happy with their product.

The fact is, some organizations treat customer service as an afterthought, while others understand that stellar customer service is the key to building loyalty, retaining customers, and growing streams of recurring revenue.

So what does it take to create a customer-service organization that consistently makes customers glad they called? A recent SC Media roundtable discussion took on that very question, and it’s worth watching for anyone interested in finding out how to step up their customer-service game.

Participating in the roundtable were SC Media Deputy Editor Bradley Barth acting as moderator, Legendary Entertainment CSO/CISO Dan Meacham (winner of SC Media’s 2021 “CSO of the Year” award), and Barracuda’s own Chief Services Officer Hossein “Hoss” Ghazizadeh, whose team is responsible for Barracuda Networks winning SC Media’s 2021 Excellence Award for Best Customer Service.

Vendor and customer alignment

It’s fascinating, if not particularly surprising, to see how Meacham’s views, representing the customer perspective, and Ghazizadeh’s thoughts from a vendor perspective are very closely aligned. Indeed, one of the key takeaways from the discussion is how important it is for the vendor and customer to be in alignment to make customer service a good experience for everyone. As Meacham put it, he wants to work with security vendors who make him feel “my breach is your breach.”

Ghazizadeh stressed the importance of taking a true customer-first approach to service, and he pointed out that of the five “core values” that Barracuda strives to uphold, “Think Customer” is at the top of the list.

Of course, anyone can claim to focus on the customer—the question is, how do you execute that in a way that shapes a service team’s every customer interaction, day in and day out? Here are a few of the key points that Ghazizadeh and Meacham shared:

  • Immediate, live response is critical. From day one, Ghazizadeh has insisted on no phone trees. Every call at any time is answered by a knowledgeable human, and every email gets an immediate call-back.
  • No separate priority levels. Whether it’s a simple question about how to use a product feature or a full-scale security breach in progress, says Ghazizadeh, every call is priority one.
  • Be proactive, not just reactive. Meacham put it this way: “When’s the last time an account manager visited us to check in on how we’re using the product and how they can help us be more successful?” And Ghazizadeh shared that he created a special team to reach out to customers to make sure they’re not having any problems and are getting full value from their product.
  • Really listen to customers. After ditching a security product he liked a lot but whose vendor was unresponsive, Meacham replaced it with a product that wasn’t as good a fit for his team’s needs. But the vendor paid attention to his concerns and rapidly developed patches to bring the product into alignment with his needs—earning his loyalty as a result.

There are a lot more insights to be gained from this half-hour discussion. The bottom line, for both Meacham and Ghazizadeh, is trust. A customer-service team that genuinely invests in earning customer trust will drive long-term success—whereas a vendor that treats customer service as an unwanted cost and a distraction will soon find itself on its way to irrelevance.

See what sets Barracuda customer service apart

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