Customer Service, an element that is getting more and more attention these days. Local industries in various sectors are attempting to strengthen the myth of Customer Service. To embrace and implement programs to introduce change among the file and ranks. However, this seems a bigger job than expected. It seems this is a concept although practiced and ingrained in Malaysian culture and daily life, its introduction into the workplace seems a mission insurmountable.

Customer Service, already rare in the public domain suffers most among the armies of “K-Economy ready” technical support help desk technicians. Attempting to understand the mind of a Technical Support engineer is like going through your local mamak’s Mee goreng looking for that other piece of fried beancurd or the ever evasive slice of tomato.

Your typical Technical Support engineer, a result of an educational system that bombards him with information, materials and schematics that isn’t balanced with the more important humanistic traits and people skills to succeed in the actual workplace. The end results are marble statues en masse that move and eat like you or I but have low or no understanding of customer service nor aptitude to human emotions. However, present them with a computer that doesn’t work and their eyes will light up as if reunited with a long lost lover seeking rekindling.

Pair your typical engineer with a desperate user who has a job threatening deadline and an ailing computer between them; the result would very likely be disastrous. A disaster for your company, your product and probably any potential future business from this particular customer, his friends and relatives. According to studies, the average disgruntled or unhappy customer would most likely share bad experiences with 8 – 16 others. 10% or more tell 20 others and 91% of this unsatisfied lot will never purchase again.

A quick mental calculation will illustrate how this negativity will grow exponentially and prove fatal to your business. Unconvinced? When was the last time you shared with more than 5 people how good the service from the front line staff was in your local fried chicken franchise restaurant? Now, how many people have you complained to about how this same franchise restaurant staff was irrevocable on his or her stand without an acceptable explanation as to why they cannot serve you a mix of the regular and crispy recipes on an order? Alas, the classic state of Malaysian business mentality when it comes to formulating policy and procedure. Not much if any consideration is focused on customer satisfaction, the most important element of customer service.

Now, how does this fit in to the paradoxical relationship between technical support engineers at call center help desks and customer service?

Communications over the phone suffers from the elimination of body language as a communication tool. This equates to the removal of approximately 55% of your communication effectiveness. With purely auditory communication body language is unavailable. This paradox is further made clear when even with body language; a typical purely technical person from my experience is ineffective in communicating let alone expected to exhibit customer service qualities. When was last time you received good customer service from your company IT support person? Are you not a customer? Albeit an internal one. Put them behind the phone and you can imagine the nightmare your customers face.

Technical Support engineers at call center help desks have long suffered this lack of attention to the honing of their customer service abilities by top management. Introducing customer service skills to these individuals via an effective training program specially designed for technical support professionals working at help desks is of vital importance. A program specially tailored to approach the purely logical mind of an engineer. The objective, to gently introduce and instill the importance of the completely alien concept of customer service to these “Mr. Spocks” of call centers. To cultivate an understanding of good customer service and how if yielded effectively, could be invaluable to your company and for them as individuals in their personal life.

There are many of these programs available. One such accredited program is the American SSPA (Service and Support Professionals Association) Certified Support Professional course. Second of the five levels of certified available courses which develops a technical support help desk engineer from Customer Service Qualified to Certified Support Executive levels. More information available at www.supportgate.com or www.scicom-intl.com the authorized Malaysian affiliate.