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Pawel Brodzinski on Software Project Management

What’s the Problem with Great Service?

We’re told we should deliver great service for our customers. We’re told we should go an extra mile for our costumer. Heck, you can read this advice a number of times here on Software Project Management.

This brings me to a place where I am at the moment: a very nice cafeteria in Warsaw. First time I was here by accident by I noticed you can recharge your notebook here while enjoying your coffee. Another time I came on exactly that purpose – to recharge my dying laptop a bit. Then they won me: I came there for some power and I got also an outstanding coffee, great service and wifi access, which I haven’t even asked for – just a moment after I got laptop on the table a nice girl from cafeteria gave me the password.

What’s the problem than? Coffee is still great, wifi and power works as it used to but somehow I noticed the service is just slightly worse. This time no one asked me whether I need internet connection and they didn’t clarified which coffee I wanted. Yes, these aren’t even real issues and I’m an idiot ranting about non-existent problems. But somehow I feel a service has dropped a little from exceptional standards they set up before.

And that’s exactly the problem with great service. Once delivered everyone starts expecting you’ll always keep this standard. The same is with a very successful version of your software. Your clients will be comparing every new release to that one even if it is a few-year old.

Having said that, I still advise you to deliver great service to your customers. After all I’m coming back to the cafeteria next time I’m here. It still leads the pack.

in: software business

7 comments… add one

  • Vukoje August 11, 2009, 4:37 pm

    This kind a reminds me of situation where you transfer to heroic programmer, sacrificing everything to complete impossible task. If you are so lucky to survive and be successful you could be left with boss thinking that task was trivial.

  • Pawel Brodzinski August 12, 2009, 2:40 am

    This is more a problem of a manager than a problem of a developer. But yes, showing stellar performance makes people expecting you'll do that more often.

    Personally I love to work with people who showed on occasion they're able to do some exceptional work. I never try to exploit though. At least as far as I don't have to. Their abilities are a kind of safety reserve for me. When things are going wrong I know I have this one more ace in my hand. Even though I hate to play this card.

  • lordmac August 12, 2009, 6:11 am

    I fully understand you.
    Do something extraordinary and your client will consider this as standard service.
    But, I think, that's why every company has a marketing guy who should take care of this and explain to customer what's going on and what is the "standard".

    Ps. I know it will be an advert but can you please tell us the name of this cafeteria? :)

  • Pawel Brodzinski August 12, 2009, 11:51 am

    Personally I understand and appreciate when someone goes an extra mile for me. And I uderstand when they don't do that on every occasion. Although I notice when they don't do it. Anyway I still prefer to get great service most of the time insead of not getting it at all.

    Cafeteria name is Barista (placed in Zlote Tarasy). It beats Coffee Heaven because of power source and coffee being served in real cups instead of cardboard ones.

  • lordmac August 13, 2009, 12:21 am

    Thanks Pawel !

    That's why I don't like Coffee Heaven – they have good coffee but the cups – it's a mistake.

  • blog August 13, 2009, 10:24 am

    I think a lot of this has to do with delivering *consistent* service. If every time I visit a place it's different (and maybe good each time), I don't know if the next time will be another variation of good or if it was a fluke and next time it will be bad.

    If a company or individual can produce consistent quality (service or product), then do it. But if not, then you need to look at your people and processes and figure out how to get there.

  • Pawel Brodzinski August 13, 2009, 10:38 am

    Yes it is about being consistent. But if your main goal is being consistent you should punish an individual who adds some more. You should punish the very same person who makes the place/service/product exceptional. This doesn't make any sense.

    If the girl in the cafeteria hadn't been so nice I wouldn't have been so delighted with the place and maybe I wouldn't have come back.

    Now even though I see the difference I still consider the service as great.

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