Defining Excellent Customer Service

May 20, 2015
Dennis Reno

The 2015 SC Magazine Awards announced Proofpoint as the winner of the Customer Service Excellence in IT Security companies. As VP of Customer Success, it’s great to get this kind of outside feedback that our strategy, tactics, and investments in our staff and our customers’ delight are exemplary in our field. What I want to talk about today is how we did it, and how we hope other companies start to do it more in every industry.

Good service creating positive experiences can be the deciding factor in winning and retaining your customers. It’s important to create positive feelings in any one of the different kinds of learners that come to you with a need for help or troubleshooting, and I say different kinds because there really are three main ways that people approach learning: customers want to be told how to do a job, shown how to do a job, or to have a job done for them. At Proofpoint, we elect to embrace and support all learning styles, and try to match the style of teaching to our customers’ preferred style of learning.  Truly one size does not fit all. 

For those that want to be told how to troubleshoot so that they can self-serve their issues, we provide a comprehensive set of online services including installation documentation, downloadable online manuals, user-oriented manuals, and a knowledge base featuring thousands of searchable articles. We monitor which are the most-read and accessed articles, so that we can work at constantly improve and refine answers and solutions that people are researching. Documentation is not a one-shot – it requires constant upkeep and maintenance!  For that reason, we are continuing to expand our self-service by providing more options to find answers on your own, and community forums to share best practices as well as interact with our experts and other customers.

For those that want to be shown how to do things, we have interactive chat sessions and 24x7 global support centers. Customers can also submit tickets and track their cases through to completion. With more than 80 customer support engineers on staff, Proofpoint addresses customer needs in a timely and effective manner to ensure organizations are receiving the most benefit from their technology. If they want more personal improvement and information, they can access training and become a Proofpoint Accredited Engineer through a three-to-five hour self-paced course.  We are continuing to invest in our on-line, self-paced training by converting on-line coursework into videos on a wide variety of topics.  Our customers have told us that You Tube like videos are a great way to learn, and we are responding to that request with the production of short “how to” videos.

Sometimes our customers say “Do it all for me.” In instances where a company needs another set of hands and eyes either remotely or on-site for a large implementation, Proofpoint provides professional services with varying scope and pricing determined by the products ordered and the complexity of the implementation. Additionally, we provide on-site hardware repair for any standard support agreement, so there’s no extra charges if something physically needs replacing.   We also have a staff of consultants through our Professional Services team who can help with deep product expertise.  We round out our team with Technical Account Managers (TAM’s) and Customer Success Managers (CSM’s) who can supplement the technical needs of just about any customer. 

Finally, you can’t just pat yourself on the back and say you’ve done enough. Proofpoint conducts regular third-party audits and customer satisfaction surveys to make sure we’re on the right path. Customer experience is the factor that will keep a contract in place for years, even when the customer doesn’t need a high touch anymore. If you educate and delight your customers, and try to make every interaction positive, they will stay your customers for years to come.