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Is There Room for Service in Support?

by Tom Northrup
13 minutes read

Have you heard the old IT saying, “Software would work great if it wasn’t for the users”? Having worked in IT support in my earlier years I remember feeling burnt out and thinking the same way. The disconnect with those we help as technologists and our own IT agendas, is a break down in a culture. As an organization there must be a foundation for departments to build on. Each department pulls from the organizational culture to establish norms and manage inter-department relations. Any interruption in the company culture will surface in the daily interactions between employees. What organization can be productive without a strong culture?

The information technology department within the past ten years has become a thriving center of any organizational growth. Therefore we, IT Departments, must combat frustration with clear prescriptive actions. To change from frustration to understanding the IT department must bridge the gap between techie know-it-all and a used car type of customer service. We in IT need to shift from being a ‘support’ department to be a ‘service’ provider for our own organization. We will we become more understanding and compassionate for those reaching out for helpwhen we see our work as a service to those we serve. 

This transformation into a service department requires each employee to be empowered to help and solve problems within their own position. The company culture should shift to empower employees and stress ownership by everyone over a task they are dealing with. This shift comes from leadership recognizing the need and implementing strategies that bring about change within an organization.  

If you are in an IT Department looking to transition into a service department, below are four points that will transform any helpdesk. 

Transform your helpdesk 

Give them a voice 

– Establish regular interdepartmental surveys gathering opportunities, and recognition.  

– What gets measured, gets improved 

– Start by simply asking “How satisfied were you with the support provided by IT?” 

– Do not take offense to the responses, but leverage them for opportunities to improve 

Words Matter 

– Provide specific wording around support to set the memory of the experience.  

– Example Communication: “Our goal is for the accuracy avoiding rework; have we done this today?”  

– This question fits well with a survey that asks about accuracy. 

What’s your What? 

– Connect the mundane to purposeful work.  

– Make efforts to remember the difference made.  

– This includes recognizing those that are providing excellent service 

– Example Communication: We don’t fix computers, we decrease anxiety while improving work-life blend when coworkers complete tasks minus frustration.  

Meet them where they are 

– Systematic assessment to rate customers, frequent-flyers, tech savvy, or walking EMP.  

– Perhaps rating customers will give insight to provide personalized support, which should improve outcomes. 

– Plan for each troubled customer that requires the most effort 

– Promote training and new optional technology to tech-savvy individuals  

– Provide the direction to spend a little extra time during a support call when training frequent-flyers to troubleshoot and fix issues themselves  

I suggest to not see “end-users” as “customers,” but “producers” for the organization. This will transform our thinking about how we serve productive members in reaching organizational greatness, rather than simply helping usersWith this change in mindset, the survey is the next natural step. Dare to care about how we impact our fellow employees? Take the risk and roll out the red carpet, while not being rolled over. You avoid being rolled over by always adapting to the needs of those you serve. The IT Department should not be a mere catalyst for change, but the cheerleader for it. We must spread the good news of technologyWhat better way than while we are being asked for help?

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