At Go Daddy, we pride ourselves on providing world-class customer service. Over half of our approximately 3,300 employees work in our customer care center. Our customer support teams are winning awards and surprising people every day by providing free, 24/7 support. Go Daddy is an awesome place to work and we compensate our employees exceptionally well.
What does any of that have to do with Information Technology, though? Our customers rely on their websites for their business, their hobbies, and their personal lives, and they want those websites to work reliably. Even the best trained, happiest customer service representative can’t prevent an outage or restore service when something goes wrong. The function of providing our customers what they want falls on the shoulders of developers and IT operations professionals. This requires customer service to be at the core of the entire organization and, at Go Daddy, it is! Here are some tips from my experience as an IT leader that helped me bring a customer focus to the center of our hosting operations.
Know your Customers
A focus on customer service won’t work as well if your teams don’t understand the customer experience. We’re lucky at Go Daddy because most of our employees are also customers. We encourage all of our teams to use our own products, both personally and professionally. We are also extremely fortunate to be able to cultivate and promote a good portion of our IT staff from our support teams. Almost half of the system administrators in our hosting operations team started in a customer support role at Go Daddy, and so did I. This experience helps us understand the customer context and impact of our daily activities. Encourage your team to approach the systems they operate from a customer’s standpoint, and to be customers themselves. The perspective they gain is invaluable.
Attitude is Everything
IT professionals are passionate about what they do and about the systems they design, develop and maintain. Sometimes that passion can lead to nearsightedness, causing them to overlook the purpose of those very systems. A customer shouldn’t be viewed as a risk to a system’s stability when that customer is the whole reason the system exists. It’s easy to see just a server or a switch or a firewall, but as an IT leader, we have to help our teams see the value that hardware or software provides to the organization, and more importantly, to the customer. It’s important that leaders on our team foster an attitude of support for our customers.
It’s very important that our employees understand the “why” of the work they do. When my team logs into a server they know that they are touching customers’ websites, and that their actions (good or bad) directly impact those customers’ livelihoods. So, they approach every task with the needs of those customers in mind. Helping your IT staff understand the scope and impact of what they do, as well as the value it brings to customers, helps build job satisfaction, because everyone wants to see that their job is important.
There are obvious key performance indicators that all IT organizations are concerned with such as up-time, performance, and cost; and these are all important things to measure. How many of these performance metrics focus on the customer experience? I found that the assumptions we had internally about what our customers wanted weren’t giving us the whole picture. So, we partnered with our Customer Care Center and with our social media team to find out what our customers have to say.
What we learned surprised me. Customers weren’t only worried about up time like we had assumed. We learned that what’s important to our customers are things like, how long it takes to set up a new hosting account, how long it takes to add a new database or FTP user, and how quickly their websites load. In response, we’ve built systems to measure all these areas and report on them, allowing us to ensure our actions are aligned with what our customers want. We then circle back with our support and social media teams to track our successes (and sometimes failures), hopefully by observing a reduction in calls to support and an improvement of our customer social media sentiment.
Have Faith in Your People
Giving my team the objective of providing world class hosting services, and then having faith that they will do the right thing, sounds obvious. But, I think a lot of IT leaders have a hard time with this. If I can’t trust every single member of my team to do the right thing for our customers, for the right reasons, the problem doesn’t rest with them, it rests with me as a leader. Sometimes you have to ask yourself hard questions and make hard decisions when you don’t feel you can trust a member of your team. But, failing to do so hurts everyone in the long run. When you can place this kind of faith in your people, not only is life easier for you as a leader, but you’ll find your team impresses you on a daily basis with their dedication and ingenuity.
So Why Bother?
Aside from the obvious fact that every business exists to provide value to its customers, giving an IT Operations team a customer service focus will ultimately help drive employee satisfaction as well. I know this from experience! My job as the head of Hosting Operations isn’t to manage the operations team, it’s to support them. Supporting the world’s largest paid hosting provider is no small undertaking. But, our IT professionals are up to the challenge because they know how important their roles are to Go Daddy and to our customers!