January 5, 2009
    While doing my holiday shopping, I encountered less-than-stellar service at a number of businesses. It reminded me of an old business adage about the need to provide better service than the competition. The trap here is that the competition may be delivering extremely poor services so you can slightly raise the bar and perhaps gain an increase in sales - albeit short-term. However this will do little to endear you to your customers or build loyalty.

    Competition will continue to raise the bar so your gains will be short-lived and those lost customers will remember you, and probably not in a good light. Best practices tell us that we should provide the best service we can and still make a profit.

    From personal experience, I will pay somewhat more for an item if it comes with good customer service. For example, I will shop at my local hardware store (in a town of 1,600 people) for many items rather than go to one of the big box stores. The local people know me on a first name basis and offer better advice even though the items cost 15-20% more. And I don't need to wander around the store trying to find someone to help me.

    Providing quality IT services is no different. Because of the high rate of change, we throw applications out into production but rarely revisit their performance until someone complains.

    If we just take a little extra time to review applications and services, we can probably find ways to tune them, improving performance with minimal effort. I have seen the results of some of these tuning efforts. Just spending an hour or two to add or change a database index can substantially reduce response times and resource usage - in many cases by as much as 80 or 90%.  Definitely a win-win situation - a little work brings good return and frees up existing resources, delaying costly upgrades.

    The individual saves may look inconsequential (e.g., transaction response dropping by one or two seconds), however when you consider that tens of thousands of transactions are performed each day, week or month, those savings can really add up.

    Faced with the economic downturn, maybe a little time spent tuning your applications and services will reap great rewards. Our tools can help you accomplish the work easily and quickly. Besides, these days providing better service without adding additional equipment might be the deciding factor if your business users need to choose between you or an outsourcer.

    Until the next time,

    Ron

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    Category: best-practices