Service Excellence

Face-to-Face with Customers – Still valuable after all these years

Mary Cay Kosten By Mary Cay Kosten Senior Vice President, Dell Technologies Services Operations December 21, 2011

Technology and social media vehicles have provided us with more opportunities than ever before to connect with our customers. From live chat and online communities, to Twitter and blogs, we are able to interact and collaborate with our customers on a day-to-day basis. Technology has made it easier to gain feedback and metrics through surveying vehicles and events such as EMC World are invaluable in sharing information.

EMC has become quite adept at collecting data from these vehicles as part of its focus on the customer. We have more data than ever about our customers, their requirements and how they feel about the services we provide. (Check out Frank Coleman’s blog for much more on this topic.) In this landscape, it would be easy to miss one very important component of our customer interaction – face-to-face dialogue.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with 12 customers in a small and personal setting at an EMC Global Services Advisory Forum. EMC representatives and customers discussed a wide range of service related topics and challenges. We are certainly incorporating the feedback we received into our plans for 2012 and beyond. Following are a few key “take-aways” from our meeting.

  • Proactive notification on any known technical issues in a customer environment is a high priority.
  • Customers appreciate regular updates on EMC strategy and portfolio roadmap at informal meetings/discussions.
  • Time spent listening to our customers to better understand their business problems and how they relate to their infrastructure roadmap is time well spent.
  • Customers enjoyed this opportunity to hear how their peers in the industry were solving common business challenges. The interaction fueled an active and creative discussion.

There was a time, and not all that long ago, that the primary form of customer feedback was provided face-to-face. I wouldn’t want to go back, as the expanded opportunities to connect with customers have been invaluable. With that said, these recent meetings served as an important reminder; even with busy schedules and seemingly easier ways to connect every day, the time and energy to connect face-to-face with customers is worth it for EMC support and our customers!

Thank you to the customers who shared their time and thoughts with us. We welcome other customers interested in collaborating in this type of forum to contact us.


Mary Cay Kosten

About Mary Cay Kosten

Senior Vice President, Dell Technologies Services Operations

Mary Cay leads a team of 1400 professionals that provide operational support to the Dell Technologies Services organization. Her team is responsible for driving operational excellence and implementing innovations across Dell Technologies Services. This includes areas such as eServices & Knowledge Management, Program and Change Management, Business Services, Remote Support Contact Center Operations, Command Center, Process Engineering and Data Sciences, Data Enablement and Analytics, and the Global Centers of Excellence.

Kosten has over 30 years of experience in service and supplier management, with a proven track record in building outstanding service delivery organizations. Prior to joining Dell EMC, she was Vice President of global customer services delivery for Oracle/Sun Microsystems, responsible for delivering all elements of Sun Microsystems’ support services.

Under her leadership, Sun achieved the prestigious J.D. Power Certified Technology Service and Support (CTSS) Award for "An Outstanding Customer Service Experience," the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) Award for Excellence in Service Operations, and Sun was inducted into the STAR Awards Hall of Fame.  

Kosten is a 2008 recipient of the Denver Business Journal's Outstanding Women in Business (High Tech and Telecommunications) Award and a 2006 recipient of the Silicon Valley YWCA Tribute to Women and Industry (TWIN) Award. She also is on the Advisory Board for TSIA’s Field Services discipline.

She holds an MS degree in systems management from the University of Southern California and a BS in marketing from the University of West Florida.

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0 thoughts on “Face-to-Face with Customers – Still valuable after all these years

  1. In many cases we actually have almost no information about how our customers perceive the service we provide them. The data we do have is often distilled down to one or two scorecard numbers that include no useful information. For example, the fact a customer strongly agrees with some number of survey questions says nothing about those they are indifferent to or strongly disagree with. We have even less regarding ‘why’.
    So…face-to-face is, and always will be important for at least two reasons. First, one or two verbal (and non-verbal) responses in a topic area says far more than some average of 1-5s can. Second, there is nothing more satifsying for a service provider than hearing first-hand how he/she can, or did, better provide service and better satisfy the customer. A virtual pat on the back will just never compare to a ‘real’ one.