Customer service is critical for a productive support model

IT help

Rapport

Rapport may be the most important factor in the effectiveness of an IT departments ability to support end users. 

At the core of my IT support philosophy is the concept that the end users perspective of their IT department is vital to success. Both their interactions with IT personnel and with the technology they use are affected by their respect for their IT people.

Building rapport among our users does not come naturally to every IT person. Having spent over 8 years on the front lines as the face of IT, I have developed these rules to outline some of the ways that technologists can do just that.

The Rules

It would be impossible to capture every aspect of every end user interaction in a set of philosophical maxims. The goal of these rules is not to try to fit every interaction into a box, but rather to lay out some guidelines that might be helpful in improving IT to end user relationships.

1

Introduce Yourself

Peoples opinion of you and of your department depend on how you present yourself. Every user interaction should be handled as if you are leaving a first impression. It is also important that you introduce yourself on a regular basis to your users, following up after every request.

introduce yourself early and often. Use every interaction to gauge the end users perspective of the IT department, anticipate problems, build a good relationship with your users so they feel comfortable coming back to you.

2

Fight for the Users

The opportunity that all IT professionals are presented with is to provide a level of support that helps every end user to do their jobs more effectively. There can be a tendency to do things in a way to make things easier for the IT department, and although that is valuable, it is possible to lose sight of adding value for the end user.

I believe it is the responsibility of forward facing IT personnel to advocate for the user. Listen to the end user and identify their needs.

3

No Loitering

Time spent at the end users desk should be optimized for value. When you walk away from user, and how you do so is a huge opportunity to convey the perspective of IT that you want the end user to have. Walk away too early, and you don’t care; too late, and you don’t have much to do. Walk away too slowly, and you will be perceived as not being busy.

It is best to leave the impression that you have loads of work to do, but you care very much about this end user’s success and are more than happy to sacrifice some of your precious time to give them all the help they need.

4

Never Close Early

Closing a ticket is in a way like closing a deal. The end user should always be completely satisfied before you consider an issue resolved. When it is possible, you should follow up in person. 

5

Their feelings are my feelings too

In order to truly understand the issues that our end users experience, it is important that we empathize with them. When we understand how the issue is affecting the end user, it can drastically improve our ability to solve the problem. 

6

The user isn’t always right, but neither am I

When a user says something that is not accurate, keep in mind that there are things that they are better at. They may not be great computer experts, but if you were to put yourself in their shoes, chances are they would think the same of your knowledge.

Although there are times when an IT person needs to explain that what the user wants isn’t possible, a condescending perspective is never helpful.

7

Pour sunshine into their day

Like serving a cup of freshly brewed coffee, solving technical problems for people can really make their day. It should be your goal to make every interaction a positive experience. There are sometimes even opportunities to go out and make those experiences by being proactive. The more of these positive day-making experiences you can give your users, the more effective they will be at their jobs.