As systems administrators we work in an environment where everything we do provides a service of some kind. Whether it’s providing a shared hosting server to multiple users at a low cost, managing racks of servers for a client for thousands of dollars a month, or maintaining an Active Directory infrastructure for a small business to go about their day to day business selling lumber or making pipes. We have been given a set of expectations and our job is to meet those expectations.
Sometimes, however, these expectations aren’t well communicated, and this causes all kinds of problems. We had a customer on our shared platform just this week who had a problem and had done a small amount of research into what he wanted, and started addons to his existing service with us to fix it. Little did either of us realize, his solutions to the problem were being poorly communicated, so while we worked with him to provide what he has requested, it didn’t actually resolve the problem he had to begin with.
The customer was using our cPanel environment, and had been seeing SSL errors while accessing his webmail account at hisdomain.com/webmail. This is typically not an issue, and we have a valid SSL certificate if the site is accessed as server.ourdomain.com:2096 – but the customer was concerned that his encrypted connection was not being handled as securely as it should.
However, what he initially communicated to us, was that he planned to conduct business via his website and that the tax regulations of his country demanded this be done via an encrypted website, necessitating an SSL certificate. He bought a dedicated IP addon for his account and then opened a ticket to request the SSL certificate, explaining his reasoning as above.
And so we provided just that: we assigned the IP to his account, and issued an SSL certificate for his domain and installed it. After 25 pages in the ticket (many of which were a result of an error on his side which caused us to see every response he made come through 4 times), we had a long back and forth and eventually we realized that what he had asked for wasn’t even close to what he wanted.
This will inevitably lead to a position where despite our best efforts and the involvement of a large number of people scrambling over themselves to help meet the customers needs, the customer will leave the experience deeply unsatisfied and feeling that we have in some way cheated him.
Communication is the key to ensuring that our customers are satisfied, ensuring that they understand the problem, and what the solution they are buying can do to resolve that problem.