“We involve our customers in our innovations”
As NLDC’s Vice President of Services, Hugo Hoekstra knows better than anyone that a colocation provider is only as good as the services it delivers. “We involve customers in our innovations, and when it comes to service provision we go far beyond answering questions alone.”
What makes personal contact so important?
“Our customers greatly value personal contact. The fact that they entrust us with their IT operations – the heart of any organization – makes it important that we’re accessible and available. We really go the extra mile in that respect. We make a point of getting to know all our customers personally and take a proactive approach to service delivery. Our Service Team, service level managers, floor managers and other members of our team are fully dedicated to this every day.”
To what extent do customers value this approach?
“I feel I should be modest here, as I don’t believe I’m the right person to comment on this. But based on objective data, I would say that our customers are very satisfied with our services. The customer satisfaction survey we conducted in 2018 revealed that customers rated their overall experience with NLDC with an average score of 8.2. In fact, the 2018 results indicate that customer satisfaction has increased across the board. I’m proud of this result and the members of the NLDC team who can take the credit for it.”
What would you say characterizes NLDC’s services?
“We try to be as proactive as possible in our communications. I’ll give you an example: Say we detect that one of our customers is experiencing a minor technical problem, and we dispatch one of our technical team members to resolve the issue. The first thing that person will do is call the customer while they’re on the way. We try to detect any problem before the customer has even noticed anything is wrong. So you could say we’re right on top of things.
Besides taking a personal approach, we also try to be as transparent as possible toward customers and give them maximum control. That’s part of why we launched the myNLDC Self-Service Portal in 2018, which incorporates the colocation information management system (CIMS). Customers can use the portal to manage a lot of their business, including access to the data center and submitting change requests and product requests. We can also deliver the portal as a white-label service, which means our customers can use it to serve their customers. The CIMS has also enabled us to provide our customers with real-time monitoring capabilities for power consumption and the agreed KPIs, including availability and relative air humidity. All these features were developed based on customer feedback. I would say that’s very typical of NLDC and the way we work.”
What do you mean by that, exactly?
“The myNLDC portal and its various features are designed to increase the amount of customer interaction. We provide more access to information and data and our services are more user-friendly. Since launching the portal, we can also give customers even more personal attention in order to get to know them better. As in everything we do, we’re in it for the long term, and that’s certainly true for our relationships with our customers.”
That means we’re also willing to put in the work that requires. We reach out to our customers to ask them for feedback, and invite them to our offices so they can tell us what they think of our services, including any suggestions for improvement. It’s very important to get to know your customers and understand their needs. That’s something we can all benefit from at the end of the day.
For a company like NLDC, with six sites spread across the Netherlands, it can be quite a challenge to remain consistent in our approach. That’s where the floor managers at our data centers step in: they’re indispensable in that they serve as our customers’ eyes and ears.”
Don’t you put yourself on the line by inviting your customers over specifically to rate your company?
“Sure, but if we didn’t have the backbone to do that, how would we be able to improve our services? We believe it’s important to involve our customers in our innovations, and the only way we feel you can do that is by being transparent and open to suggestions for improvement. When it comes down to it, this approach really isn’t all that different from the way Internet users rate various services online. In our rapidly digitizing world, it’s essential to drive new trends and developments, both in terms of the technology in our data centers and in terms of the services we provide.”
Can you reveal something about what customers might be able to expect in the near future?
“We will be further expanding our services. For one, our new Metro Connect connectivity service recently went live. This service provides our customers in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area with the opportunity to set up, for example, twin or triple data-center configurations. We’re also exploring value-added services for our customers that will take even more work off their hands. But our main priority is always: putting people first. We dedicate ourselves every day to further improving our people-centered services, and it will remain fundamental to everything we do in the future.”