Lessons learned from other companies are often universal – it’s the ultimate example of learning from your peers.

This week, we look at what lessons can be learned from WaveAdept, a small company that helps organizations get the best out of the cloud computing promise, by helping customers get the most out of a bunch of different software products.

And as we chat with one of WaveAdept’s founders, Dave Livesey, it’s clear that this organization, like so many others we’ve encountered, seem to really “get” that a successful relationship is all about nurturing long-term relationships. In this day and age of short attention spans and limited loyalty, it’s nice to know that some traditional values still hold true.

Q. Everyone says they’re a customer-focused business, whether or not they mean it. How do you think an organization can ensure that it’s genuinely customer focused? What does this look like for WaveAdept given you’re selling a low-margin product that users can deploy themselves?

A. To us, this is all about spending time building the relationship and understanding of what the customer’s business needs to do. Sure, Google Apps is a low-margin product, however, as with any product, if you don’t put the investment into working out to use it properly, you will get user dissatisfaction and a lack of buy in. Our focus is not product sales; it’s helping organizations work better together regardless of tools. We can’t do that unless we understand what it is you do and how you do it.

Q. Many people have talked about friendliness in relation to customer service. What do you think about the balance between friendliness and professionalism? How do you remain fresh when deadlines, tech issues, and the like get stressful?

A. This is a tough one, however, it comes down to that relationship yet again. We generally deal with the same people from each organization on a frequent basis, so the friendliness comes pretty easily. The professionalism comes from keeping delivering what we say we are going to. Obviously, things get stressed occasionally, (find me a business that doesn’t!), but we maintain the communication and our honesty and work through any problems, which usually leads to a stronger relationship in the long run.

Q. How does one ensure that your customer support staff, which in your case means you guys, are genuine with their customers? What can you do to keep fresh, especially when you’re trying to do everything else in the business?

A. It’s very easy to get caught up in support cases and start to believe that everything is going wrong and the world is falling down around you!  One of the benefits of being involved in the rest of the business is that we get to tell the ‘good news’ stories and be involved in some of the exciting new business that is coming up as well. This lends a nice perspective to the support side of things, and helps you to realize that especially in the case of cloud offerings, the support calls are generally edge cases and few and far between. The other point to make is that we generally have a really tight relationship with the client administration staff we are talking to daily, as well as the support guys at the companies whose products we sell. So the conversations are usually pretty easy.

Q. It always happens, the customer is always right, but there are times when they’re simply wrong. Any customer service nightmare stories to tell?

A. There are a few tales of interesting customer behavior, but I can’t possibly reveal any I’m afraid!!

Q. What place do tools have in delivering great customer service. My contention is that good systems and tools take drag out of the system and make it easier to give customers exceptional experiences. Do you agree, and do you have any specific examples in your case? Especially since you’re so small, I’m assuming tools help cover all of your bases.

A. Yes and no. We are still in an evaluation phase around our tool set. We have a basic case management system for the moment, but are looking to upgrade to something with more bells and whistles in the near future. It obviously will be cloud based! Tools are great, and you are right, they do make life easier, but ONLY if your relationships, processes, and procedures are set up correctly first. We are working very hard with our customers to make sure that is the case. Too many people throw a tool at a problem without first solving the root cause.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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