Bringing the WOW Customer Experience to IT (Part 2)

“You‘ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.” -Steve Jobs (Wikiquote)

IT departments, and customer service

Many IT departments (and individual IT pros) get a bad rap for being absolutely terrible when it comes to customer service.

Nick Burns, Your Company’s Computer Guy – SNL

I hate furthering negative “computer guy” images and stereotypes, but in my experience, most highly-skilled technicians (while experts in their field) do indeed lack highly-developed soft skills such as common sense, the ability to deal with people, and a positive flexible attitude.

Luckily, most IT pros are valued for their hard skills – technical knowledge of advanced hardware/software systems – and NOT for their ability to provide outstanding customer service to clients and be nice to end-users.

Feedback loop for improvement

For all of their faults, IT professionals and IT departments remain critical for the business they support. After all, we are the ones keeping the machines well-oiled and maintained – and who else will fix the machines when they break?

However, problems can arise when IT pros and system admins start to believe that being good at tech makes them indispensable.

David Hansson, a founder of Basecamp and creator of the Ruby on Rails framework, penned a piece simply called The end of the IT department. By far one of the best snippets from his op/ed is:

The problem with IT departments seems to be that they’re set up as a forced internal vendor. From the start, they have a monopoly on the “computer problem” — such monopolies have a tendency to produce the customer service you’d expect from the US Postal Service. The IT department has all the power, they’re not going anywhere (at least not in the short term), and their customers are seen as mindless peons. There’s no feedback loop for improvement.

The author makes a good point. I’ve personally helped many businesses who have made this mistake in the past: by giving their IT department nearly unlimited power to control critical business systems, while at the same time allowing IT to operate with near-zero transparency and limited accountability, the end result is usually a business that is trapped by IT complacency and incompetence.

Think about it: if the details of your IT department’s daily operations were known only to them, how could you (as the business owner, or as the end-user) ever possibly give IT feedback for improvement?

Would they even listen to you if you did?

Support Tickets and Feedback

If you want to improve customer service, accountability, and communication in the IT department, just implement a support ticketing system.

Support ticketing systems allow IT departments to track, organize, and resolve end user requests via a simple email-based system. If you’ve ever requested help from a company and received a “case number” or “ticket ID” over email, then you have used a ticketing system.

The great thing about ticketing systems (from the perspective of the IT department) is that they allow us to quantify the level, effectiveness, and timeliness of the support service we provide to the business and it’s end-users – in near real time.

More importantly, ticketing systems empower end-users to provide instant feedback to “Solved” tickets, while at the same time generating reports on the effectiveness of IT support using key metrics such as Ticket Backlog, Satisfaction, and First Reply Time.

What does this mean? When fully adopted by both IT and by end users, the ticketing system simultaneously becomes the main customer-facing support platform, the main customer feedback-gathering mechanism, and the key IT performance indicator.

In short: the ticketing system becomes the feedback loop for improvement.

Enter Support Ticketing

Support ticketing systems are critical for the function of any IT support department, especially for an outsourced managed IT service provider (MSP) such as Silverleaf.

We reached a critical point earlier this year, where it became necessary to hire extra technicians to support our growing client base (and growing client end user base), and to upgrade our internal process for providing support. We needed a better way to track the effectiveness of the support we were providing.

Enter Support Ticketing. This year, we’ve been on-boarding all new clients to use our ticketing system, and encouraging all existing clients to use it as well. I’m happy to report that at the time of this writing, customer satisfaction is at 100%!

I hope that all of our clients will see the benefits of the newest addition to our “feedback loop for improvement”! Just email our support address. We also encourage that you write a reviews for feedback and visit our review page.

Featured image credit: Daily Tech