The decline of customer service in IT

What is good customer service worth in the channel?

As a consulting firm that works with end user organizations and vendors in the design, implementation and management of IT, telecom and contact centre applications, we frequently hear comments about the decline in customer service within the marketplace.

In fact, this is one of the many reasons why end -users actually engage consultants; that is to have the consultant help improve the service and support they receive from their vendors and channel partners.

The clients complain that they can’t get the service they need, want or have paid for. They also comment that the technicians are run off their feet, don’t know the technology as well as they should, don’t know how to talk to them in business language or even something as simple as keep appointments as originally planned.

Paying for service

The clients say that these complaints are true whether it is for their IT or telecom (ICT) suppliers. They also comment that they wish there were more alternatives and options related to service plans and packages in ICT, similar to other purchases, that they as businesses can purchase.

This part of the feedback was particularly interesting and has been consistent across our client base, demographics or even geography.

The interesting observation from this analysis is that not only are there more choices in service plans and alternatives within the other purchase areas, but many customers (whether business or consumer) appear to be willing to pay for the various levels of service.

This got us thinking…is this a chicken and egg situation? Is it that customers will demand the other plans which then become available, or do the suppliers push the plans to the market, therefore we will pay for them?

We believe that the technology industry as a whole is more immature and less competitive in customer service product offers, and they are also under the misconception that their customers would not pay for different levels of services. We know from our own clients during many discussions about declining customer service, that this is not the case. In addition, we don’t believe the industry has done a good job of articulating the value of having an enhanced service plan with faster response times and “help desk” level support.

Our customers (disregarding size), in fact ARE willing to pay for higher value services, particularly if they are the types of companies that “get” the value of IT. They do consistently ask to have the vendor provide business value/ROI reasons why they should pay for the service, but unfortunately are rarely provided with this information, hence, don’t approve the expense.


1. Ask your customers about possible service options that they would be interested in, and for what products/services. You could also reach out to the consulting industry for feedback and validation.

2. Test market some new service offers in a variety of segments/geographies.

3. Develop marketing programs via direct and indirect channels to spread the word on these new offers.

4. Monitor results and brag, brag, brag about positive customer feedback so that other customers know you have made a difference.

As Unified Communications becomes the defacto standard for business communications, there will be an increased requirement for a strong relationship between the user and the supplier. Success will be dependent on the ability of technology suppliers to establish a trusting relationship.

Part of establishing that relationship is the ability to clearly articulate service levels, response times, responsibility and accountability of both customer and vendor.

It is also important that the value of various services is clearly communicated when marketing to the user community.

I hope you have found our thoughts of value, educational, enlightening or at least humorous, and feel free me at Roberta J. Fox at [email protected] or 905.473.3369 x 1001 to discuss further.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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