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John Sansom - SQL Server DBA in the UK

John Sansom (@SQLBrit) is a Technology Lead with the database team at Expedia, Inc. providing consulting services and support for one of the worlds largest SQL Server environments. Awarded the Microsoft Community Contributor Award (MCC) John can be found regularly blogging about Being a DBA and Professional Development over at www.johnsansom.com.

Think Like a Customer

This is the most important and essential first step for a DBA on the journey to providing outstanding customer service. Make sure you too are headed in the right direction.

You’re reading Think Like a Customer, day 2 of 5 Days to Outstanding DBA Customer Service. What prompted this journey into exploring what is Outstanding Customer Service for the Data Professional?  Good Question.  You can find exactly why in day 1 here.

"Monkey Thinking"

"What's on this customers mind?"


What do Your Customers Want?

If you don’t know the answer to this question then you are going to have an extremely tough time providing any sort of service let alone an outstanding one.

What is it that the customer wants from their relationship with you? If you’re a Data Professional, such as a Database Administrator, then nine times out of ten I bet it’s to provide support or solve a problem. Perhaps you operate in a consultative capacity, providing guidance and expert knowledge on design, server configuration or T-SQL coding.

Whatever it is that you do for your customers it’s important that you fully understand what it is that your customers expect from you. Only then can you determine whether or not you are providing a truly valuable service, which specifically provides for the needs of your customers.

How to Find Out

Think like a customer

“This is the simplest and most immediately accessible way for you to evaluate what your customers need.”

Put yourself in their shoes and try to see the world from the perspective of your customers. We’re often so busy with our work that we can sometimes loose sight of the reasons we’re doing it in the first place. In a world of detached communication mediums (email, automated telephone systems, help desk forums and ticketing systems) it can unfortunately be easy to forget sometimes that we are actually dealing with real people. I can’t emphasise enough the importance of “real” and direct communication with your customers but that’s a point for another time.

The point is that in order for you to position yourself to be able to deliver outstanding customer service you have to understand who your customers are. A great way to achieve this is by thinking like them.

  • What is is that your customers ultimately want from you?
  • What is the services that you are providing?
  • What are their needs and wants?
  • Do you have different types of customers? Developers, Project Managers, Business Analysts, Finance, Internal/External customers……

Ask them

Of course, thinking like a customer is just one of the ways that you can begin to understand who your customers are and what they need.

You probably already have a good idea of some of the things that your customers want from you but are you confident that you are really doing ALL that you could be for them? Why not ask them? There are a lot of different ways to seek feedback from your customers. It doesn’t need to be a formal process (survey/questionnaire/interview) either.

The next time your are providing support, why not call the customer once you have restored the databases for them to update them personally. Ask them about their work or project to see if there is anything further you can assist with. Perhaps ask why the database restore was needed. “Oh you needed to revert a data change. I’d love to work with you on similar projects in the future. We could look at using Database Snapshots as a way of providing immediately available and lightweight data rollback capability.” In doing so, you’re working together with your customer rather than for them, and by finding out what the customer really wanted you are providing an even higher quality of service, not to mention saving everyone some time :-)

Get to Know Your Customers Today

There’s no better time than right now to start thinking like a customer. As you go about your work today take some time to consider the service that you are providing to your customers and what it is they really need from you. Better still, talk to them about it. Let them know that your door (albeit perhaps virtual) is always open to them.

“Are you really providing what your customers need? Today, think like a customer.”

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