Ted Werth stays close to customers as PlumChoice grows Featured

6:27am EDT April 21, 2010

Ted Werth got frustrated trying to solve his father’s

technology problems in Washington, D.C., over the phone from Boston. So he

started PlumChoice Online PC Services Inc. in 2001 to provide 24-7 remote

repair and support for digital devices.

Early on, Werth interacted with most of the customers. But as

the company grew, his 650 employees began to handle most of the direct contact.

“One of the biggest issues with companies as they grow is that

the people who are making decisions get further and further separated from the

actual customer,” says Werth, chairman and CEO. “Once you get removed from the

customers … it’s become more of a theoretical process than a real process of

how you work with customers.”

To maintain that connection with customers, consistently

expose yourself to them and their reactions to your service.

Werth does this by monitoring calls between employees and

customers at least weekly — sometimes even participating.

Not only does that give you insight into customers’ issues,

but it also lets you monitor how employees are providing solutions.

“You’re looking for patience, how they communicate,

effectiveness of the service that’s being delivered, … time that it takes to

solve problems,” Werth says. “And then, of course, we look at the customer

surveys: How satisfied is the customer with the result of the work that was

done, and why?”

Those surveys go out to every customer after each service,

usually as an online questionnaire that pops up after the tech terminates the

remote connection. It asks how satisfied the customer is on a scale of positive

to negative, how likely the customer is to recommend the service on a scale of

0 to 10, and other open-ended questions.

Those ratings come back to the respective technicians, so

employees know how their customer satisfaction and net promoter grades compare

to the standard.

“You not only assist people through training, but you can also

monitor adherence through the tools,” Werth says. “It could be as high-level as

you [mandate] a certain customer sat as a business. It could be that we develop

the training and processes so that people understand what it takes to provide

excellent customer sat. And then we monitor 100 percent of what they do; we can

use those to build add-on training.”

But even employees who don’t deal directly with customers

should know the recipe for their satisfaction.

“It takes a fair amount of work to get someone to understand

the customer as well as they need to to do their job in a way that affects the

customer in a positive way,” Werth says. “If we don’t take the time to have

them use our service, listen to the service, talk to the end customer, they’re

really not clear on what they’re [doing].

“Get them a chance to sit down next to an agent who’s

providing service [and] listen in to the calls so they start to appreciate what

customers want. It’s really getting a chance to listen to the customers’

reactions that gives the context for understanding why we’re in business, what

we’re doing as a business.”

By hearing how customers respond to the service they receive —

and making sure employees do the same — Werth keeps PlumChoice tuned to

changing needs.

“It’s all about the customer,” he says. “If you’re not

customer-focused, you absolutely will be losing touch with how it makes you successful.”


How to reach: PlumChoice Online PC Services Inc., (866) 811-3321 or www.plumchoice.com