The importance of the first customer meeting for the service

Managing an IT service when I start a new company is not an easy task, particularly true, if the service quality is down or very down but if in my old experiences, I was there it was because the company needed a new way of thinking and coaching.

It is like soccer, if you live in Europe, and you are a fan, you can see in the news for instance, the coach of this club has changed because of bad results so it is almost the same thing in the service management. The company will look for a new service manager if the current one is not the “special” one.

The first action I do, it is to review the service with the management team, it includes teamleaders and the director. Then based on their feedback, I will review the processes that need the first attention to be improved.

At this time, I havea good overview of the service so my second action, it is to contact the customer for a meeting. In my point of view, it is best to send first an invitation email then to call 1 or 2 days later to confirm and to have the first conversation.

I send an email first because the most effective email is composed of 3 parts:

  • An introduction of myself
  • The different topics that I want to discuss including the different processes that I detected that need to be improved
  • The meeting proposal and his availability including other topics that the customer wants to include

Depending of the content, the meeting should be between 1 or 2 hours but I always try to schedule it with a margin in case if the meeting will take long than scheduled. For instance, from 9h to 11h making sure that between 11h and 12h I have nothing including the customer.

The first customer meeting is essential to do it within 1 or 2 months after the starting day but the email should be sent in the first month. Specially, don’t wait for the customer to take the first step, as a provider, I need to demonstrate to my customer that I am already in “total” control of his service and taking seriously any issues to improve the quality as soon as possible.

The first meeting is also the opportunity to get in live the feedback from the customer to know the life of his service like his opinion about the company, about the team, what he is expecting, etc. It is also important to be honest without compromising your company because the goal is to win his trust at the beginning. Don’t doubt to say “I am guilty” if it is true because denying it or trying to justify it doesn’t help, I like to say “to be honest with you”. For instance, to be honest with you I don’t like the way the issue has been resolved but I was looking into it and I put some actions. Don’t doubt to say “no” instead to say “yes” to something that will impact negatively the service. For instance, in one of my experience, my customer told me “you are the first one to tell me no because your predecessors said yes but nothing happen”.

The first meeting is crucial because it will build the base of your relationship. Everything counts in this meeting, your attitude, your way of saying thing, etc. Personally, many managers do too much and in fact, they just need to be themselves. Don’t forget your customer is like you, a manager but above all, an human. As I said before, the goal is to win his trust and not his sympathy, the sooner, better for you and the best way, it is to be frank and direct and not behave as a businessperson selling the paradise.

Interesting Management