GENERAL INFORMATION ON `IBM` 11
International business machines, or what is popularly known as IBMis one of the few Information technology companies that sell bothcomputer hardware and software. The company has overtime also beeninvolved in the consultancy business. The company has been able toopen branches in over 174 countries worldwide, with over 400,000employees (Agnihotri, R., & Rapp, 2010). One primary aspect thathas kept the company in a leading position is its interest in itscustomers’ needs, as well as marketing. Customer relationship hasbeen a pivotal aspect in the company’s success. Besides thepresence of an extremely effective customer service department, thecompany also employs different methods to establish successful andlong lasting customer relationships that translate to optimum sales.However, the development of some policies by the company have beenviewed as unfriendly to the clients.
Background of IBM
The term IBM is used to stand for International Businessmachines. This is a computer hardware, software and consultancycompany that was incorporated in as IBM in 1911. The company wasfounded by Thomas J. Watson and it has been extremely successful inselling information technology related products and services (IBMcorporate archives, 2011). Due to its huge blue logo, most peoplehave nick named the company as the big blue. The company was born outof a union of three companies namely The Tabulating Machine Company,the International Time Recording Company, and the Computing ScaleCompany of America (IBM corporate archives, 2011). Before the companyadopted the name IBM in 1924, it was previously known as ComputingTabulating Recording Company.
IBM has been involved in the manufacture, sales and marketing ofvarious equipment such as calculators and the mark I computer. Thecompany expanded extremely first when Bill Gates accepted to make anoperating system for their home computers in 1980. Today, IBM is oneof the best computer companies in the world. It has branches in over170 countries and has employed over 400,000 people worldwide (IBMcorporate archives, 2011).
IBM’s mission statement
IBM does not have a standard mission statement, but the managementand the employees of the company worldwide work in accordance to anumber of values that the company upholds. These values weredeveloped by over 300,000 employees and they guide the operations ofthe company in its product and service delivery. The values that thecompany rely on touch largely customer service and customerrelationships. Although the company does not have an official missionstatement, the values that it holds are believed to propagate thecompany’s purpose. One of the key values of the company is thededication of the employees towards the success of the clients. Thisis one of the values of the company that address customer servicedirectly (Brendan, 2010). The management and the employees have aduty to ensure that the client are offered quality services and aresatisfied.
The second value that serves the purpose of the company is creatingtrust between the company and the clients. The company believes increating personal relationships with every client. This helps todevelop a personal relationship between the company and the clients,which is extremely useful in service delivery (Aaker et al., 2013).Every customer is served individually, and this increases customersatisfaction. It is clear to this point that the company’s focus ismainly on the needs of the clients. The third value that the companyapplies to advance its mission and purpose is innovation that isuseful and matters not only to the company, but also to the entireworld. This is a value that has the clients in mind. Innovation atthe company seeks to provide goods and services that are useful andhelpful to the client.
There are various customer service policies that have recently beenintroduced by the company that are published at the company’swebsite. Some of the customer service policies include those relatingto hardware patches. The company has restricted the hardware patchesand changes to only the paying customers. This policy has been termedas uncompetitive and unfriendly to the clients. The IBM fix centralrequires every visitor who is seeking hardware patch or update toprovide a serial number that the company uses to determine whetherthe product is under IBM’s maintenance contract or and IBM hardwarewarranty. Such a policy cannot be termed as customer friendly sinceit turns away potential customers who may be searching for hardwarepatches and updates. Experts have also argued that such a policywould negatively affect the resale value of IBM products.
The wording of the policy does not seem to warn the customer, butclearly communicates to the client on his or her chance of getting ahardware patch or an update. Part of the policy, which reads, IBM “isgetting to the spot where the customer has no choice but to buy anIBM maintenance agreement or lose access to patches and changes”seems to discriminate against certain customers (Aaker et al., 2013).It is a clear message that a client cannot access patches or changesunless he or she has acquired an IBM maintenance agreement. Thecommunication by the company is not a customer friendly method. Thewording and the lack of explanation to the customers as to why thecompany adopted the policy is unfriendly.
IBM’s training for its customer service representatives
The customer service representatives at IBM are extensivelytrained on how to resolve various customer concerns. The traininginvolves two sessions where the customer service representatives aretrained in the morning for two hours and also two hours in theevening. The training involves both technical training and the socialskills needed to resolve customer disputes. The morning sessionmainly focuses on the people skills part while the evening trainingsession focuses on the various technical issues (Agnihotri, R., &Rapp, 2010). The technical issue include but not limited to how toeffectively use the IBM Tealeaf to resolve website issues.
The employees are thoroughly trained in order to offer the bestcustomer services. The training sessions continue up to a time whenthe representatives are adequately equipped to handle clients withany form of complaint. The intention of the training is to ensurethat the employees are aware of the values of the company and thattheir contribution advances the purpose of the company. It is thegoal of the company that the customer service representatives willoffer quality and affordable services to the clients and that theywill always put the interests of the clients ahead.
Channels available for customer service/complaint resolution atIBM
It is evident that with the current competition in thebusiness world clients are demanding quick and reliable customerservice, as well as complaint resolution strategies. IBM seems tohave known this ahead of its competitors and put strategies in placeto address the concerns of its clients. There are various channelsthat IBM support department uses to address the complaints lodged byclients, as well as offer services to them such as answeringquestions or giving guidance on the usage of certain products.
The primary channel of customer service, which is both quick andconvenient is the use of a phone number, which the company haspublished its support website. According to the company, the numberthey have published is useful and active 24 hours a day and 7 days aweek (Stinchcombe, 2012). It is also the assertion of the companythat the average wait when calling the number is one minute.Accordingly, when the support team puts a client on hold and thephone disconnects, they have the responsibility to call the clientback for free.
The company website (http://www.ibm.com/) is also extremely usefulin offering customer support. There is also an emailing service thathas a link at the company’s website under support. This is a linkthat a client can use to report or request for any support service.The emailing service, however, works under service request (SR)application where a customer must sign up in order to access theservices.
In a majority of the cases, customer complaints are resolved overthe phone. A customer can also consult the support team that isavailable 24/7 when a computer hardware has a slight problem and heor she can be offered guidance on how to rectify the problem. Thecompany has also a channel through which parts of a computer or anyother hardware can be sent to the client for replacement. However,IBM has room for dispatching a technician to go and attend to aclient’s complaint (Agnihotri, R., & Rapp, 2010). Thetechnician is normally dispatched within four hours of a customercomplaint. It is vital to note that technicians are dispatched onlyif need be and the company uses the remote technical phone support todirect the technician.
Organizational characteristics and technologies applied
IBM offers remote customer service, which include remotecalls. This means that clients can reach or acquire support servicesfrom any part of the world. This is in line with the organizationalcharacteristic of the company where the customer always comes first.The company seeks to offer the best services to the client amidst anumber of challenges (Brendan, 2010). In other words, the need for aremote customer service at IBM was informed by the values of thecompany. It is prudent for the company to ensure that the client issuccessful. The company also seeks to come up with innovations thatare helpful both to the company and the world.
The technology that IBM has employed in the remote customer serviceplatform is a dedicated network connection where the XIV® system isconnected to the XIV Remote Support Center. IBM has affirmed toits clients that the XIV Remote Support Center offers high standardsecurity and it is therefore safe for the clients (Stinchcombe,2012). The XIV remote support client is a software that enablesremote communication between the client and the support team.
The staffing of the remote customer contact include technicalexperts, as well as generic call handling personnel. It is evidentthat there are varying questions that the clients may want to ask. Itis, therefore, prudent to have both technical experts and the genericcall handling personnel. In this regard, the technical team canhandle the technical questions, while the other call handlingpersonnel handle the normal questions (Stinchcombe, 2012). It isworth noting that the employees at IBM especially those in thecustomer service department are thoroughly to enable them handle anyform of complaint.
IBM has adopted the automatic number identification technologylargely known as the ANI for communicating with its clients. This,however works hand in hand with computer telephony integration thatenables the retrieval of customer call records. This is extremelyhelpful in service delivery since every customer is known and servedindividually. With the remote customer contact, it is absolutelynecessary to have such a technology in order to serve the customersbetter.
Investigation complaint handling and service provision channels atIBM
The telephone phone system
One of the most effective and efficient channel ofcommunication at IBM is the telephone system. The phone system can beused at IBM by all customers for various purposes. The investigationswith regard to the usage of the phone system by clients indicatedthat the system is extremely effective and efficient when orderingfor products or services. Phone calls are always answered within aminute of calling (Stinchcombe, 2012). The company has also embarkedon a call back system where customer service representatives callcustomers back if the phone gets disconnected. It was also noted thatthe customer service representatives at IBM are extremely polite andfriendly to the clients. Although there are clients who are rude andunruly, the customer service representatives always remain calm.Therefore, the phone system was found out to be friendly to theclients, effective and efficient for ordering products and servicesat IBM.
In instances where a client has a complaint or needs directives withregard to the use of any IBM product, the phone system was found tobe the most effective channel of addressing such a problem. To startwith, the support personnel are available 24/7 and clients can callin any time (Stinchcombe, 2012). It was also found out that thepersonnel at the support department are always polite and friendly tothe clients. In other words, the support personnel approach theclients with respect and dignity that they deserve. The phone systemoffers a timely service to the clients since the average waiting timeis one minute. The support team is always ready to offer support andadvice on any issue regarding their products and services. Anycomplaints by clients are addressed promptly by the support’stechnical team through the phone.
IBM’s website is one of the most modern and technologicallyadvanced website in the world today. The company allows users andpotential, as well as existing clients to use the website to orderfor products and services and also pay for the same through the useof credit cards. The website is user-friendly, effective andefficient while ordering for any product or service. The products orservices ordered are always delivered on the due date stipulated bythe company at the website (Stinchcombe, 2012). The website hasvarious sections and links such as email and also links to connect tothe company through their social network handles.
When reporting for a service problem or complaining over a productor service, the website is also extremely effective. The emailingservice at the website is effective and quick. The support teamreplies to emails within a short time addressing the issue at hand orrequesting for additional information (Aaker et al., 2013). It wasalso found out that the interaction with the website while reportingservice problems was friendly and easy to use.
This research has clearly demonstrated that customer serviceand relationships are at the core of the IBM Company. The main focusof the company is on customer satisfaction. The company seeks tobuild strong relationships between its employees and the clients. Thevalues developed by the company through its employees’contributions indicate that the company is fully dedicated tooffering the best services to its customers worldwide. Customerservice representatives are equipped with customer details throughthe customer records and therefore will always strive to rememberevery customer by their names. This individualized service provisionis critical at the company in creating strong and permanent customerrelationships (Agnihotri, R., & Rapp, 2010). It was also foundout that there are particular consistent customers who are assignedto particular customer service representatives who serve themindividually. This goes a long way in enhancing customer relations atthe company.
The company always keeps records of not only customer’s emails,but also the telephone contacts and the physical address. This isextremely useful when the company wants to reach to the client foradvertising or promotional services. Sending of universal junk emailsis totally discouraged by the company (Brendan, 2010). The companyonly send customer tailored emails that only useful to the particularclient. This has helped the company to always keep the clients happyand satisfied.
Aaker, J., Fournier, S. & Brasel, A. (2013). When Good Brands DoBad. Journal of Consumer Research. Vol. 31.
Agnihotri, R., & Rapp, A. A. (2010). Effective salesforce automation and customer relationship: A focus onselection and implementation. New York: Business Expert Press.
Brendan, B. (2010). Remaking Business Intelligence, CustomerInteraction Solutions. Retrieved from:www.tmcnet.com/call-center/0210/workforce_optimization.htm
IBM corporate archives. (2011). IBM Global service: A brief history.Retrieved from: https://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/documents/pdf/gservices.pdf
Stinchcombe, A. L. (2012). Information and organizations.Berkeley: University of California Press.