VIP Customers and VIP Satisfaction

Many thanks to Carol Esau for suggesting this topic.

Every vendor has VIP customers. They may have purchased the premium level of support. They may be large generators of revenue in general. They may provide great references or be the first entries into a particular geography or vertical. So they should be treated with exquisite care everywhere, including in support. However, in most support organizations it seems that a customer is a customer — and worse, a case is a case, without much notion of which ones are more important. How can we make sure that important customers are treated very well?

  • Flag them. VIP customers are always flagged for sales, but surprisingly rarely for the support team. How can the average support engineer be expected to deliver TLC to accounts they don’t even know are important? (Hint: it should be possible to sort cases using the VIP flag!)
  • Give VIPs extra weight in support metrics. Rather than averaging customer satisfaction (or response time, or resolution time) straight across the board, boost the weight of VIP cases in the metrics to encourage the support engineers to spend a little extra time with them.
  • Route VIPs to the better engineers. Everyone knows that support engineers are not all equally wonderful. Routing VIPs differently ensures that they are in good end. If you elect to do this, make sure that the support engineers on the receiving end are adequately compensated. They will be happy to provide extra care, but not if they end up looking worse, in productivity (from harder cases) or satisfaction (from more demanding customers) than their colleagues with less demanding customers.
  • Use a dedicated team. Many support engineers find it difficult to manage cases with different levels of urgency, whether or not they are encouraged or compensated to do so. They may also resent the very idea of providing differential treatment to customers — so many support organizations choose to create a formal dedicated team for VIP customers. The VIP team may have different duties (for instance, provide proactive support), different metrics (often, a lower case load to match the increased complexity of cases and the weight of non-case resolution work), a different profile (more senior, with better soft skills), even a different work location (on shore rather than offshore).

What are your approaches to VIP support? What has worked and not worked for you? Please share in the comments.

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