When my organization starts a new day, we look forward to opportunities to interact with customers. That may be counter-intuitive because the conventional wisdom is that customers only call when they need something, usually information or a fix. The subtext of this is that they may also be angry or aggravated by problems they’re having. Many companies try to deflect these calls with online documentation and call center menus because “Customer Service has to scale.” In pure dollars and cents, this point is indisputable. Humans cost more than online resources.

​While I agree that we can’t always be there for every customer’s every need (and we shouldn’t be), it’s important to acknowledge that maintaining a healthy rhythm of direct contact is necessary for us to enjoy what we do and get better at it. Here’s why–we are puzzle solvers.

When Ernő Rubik created his famous cube puzzle, he created an object of consternation for millions but he also created an exhilarating challenge for millions more. Our team tries to be in the second group. When a customer (user) calls with a need, we see it as a golden opportunity for several reasons:

  1. It’s a chance to delight a customer. Even if something isn’t working right, direct contact is an opportunity to show that we have the 3 C’s: Competence, Commitment, and Caring. If we can resolve the problem promptly and professionally, we inspire the “Big C” in our customer: Confidence.
  2. We love puzzles. Curiosity is a trait that binds our team. Everyone agrees that the best part of the job is working with customers to find a solution, even when the puzzle is a tough one. Back to number 1, the bonds that form from success in solving the puzzle create an even closer relationship with our customers.
  3. Our next awesome feature could come from the conversation. Our customers know what they need to do their jobs better so if we listen carefully and attentively, we can spot needs and make a great product even better. ​

The nature of our industry makes it a great place to focus. Safety is certainly not a puzzle. It’s binary and simple. Goal Zero. However, the problems that block our path toward the goal are puzzles. Even though our market is made up of similar facilities, each facility uses our products a little differently so we continue to be presented with interesting puzzles to solve. As we grow our customer base we see this as an essential ingredient of success because I believe that staying in tune with our customers calls for regular, collaborative contact. And by the way, it’s fun for us.