CIOs: IT Customer Service Quality Requires Partnership
by Kate Nasser | 2 Comments »
Once again from my work with IT (information technology) organizations, I am compelled to write about leaders trending toward a risky move. In search for IT customer service quality, leaders are risking partnership with customers to achieve more control.
One seasoned IT leader who claims to have a strong focus on the customer asserts that the best way to drive IT customer service quality is to require reps use written communication only — e.g. email. His thinking is that email minimizes tone of voice, requires reps to think before they speak, and is easier to audit.
Yikes! Stop and u-turn this thinking. This is not a path to quality. It is a false sense of control. Quality in customer service is about two-way connections for optimal problem solving.
IT Customer Service Requires Partnership Not Just Control
Blocking conversation does not drive quality. Moreover, auditing and metrics do not create great IT customer service. They measure great service that you create.
Customers define quality through the connections they prefer.
When a customer service organization declares they will only deliver service via email, the customers’ view of quality will go down. Customers have diverse needs based on the pace of their business unit and their expectations follow that. Don’t assume customers will prefer email-only service to prevent communication errors; teach IT reps to deliver quality service through outstanding communication. I’ve been teaching it for years and can assure you that tech support reps are very capable of great person-to-person communication and outstanding connections.
Roadblocks to connection reinforce IT’s old non-business image.
For years, IT departments were seen as ancillary to the real business and as a result their funding suffered. Part of this image came from IT’s tendency to first speak technically instead of discussing the business need from the start. IT has changed that image over the years. Blocking conversation between reps and customers would be a terrible reversal. IT customer service quality requires partnership not just control and allocation of resources.
Written communication is often less clear.
You have to be a far better writer to communicate clearly the first time because there is no immediate feedback that helps you dynamically rephrase. This delay means a delay in service and solution. Moreover, when a customer needing help receives an email they don’t understand, it stokes their fear and discontent. This is hardly the picture of quality customer service.
If you still believe it’s best to limit IT direct connection to customers, ask your customers this question: “Would you like to be blocked from speaking with us? Would it effectively fuel your business success?”
Blocking connections between IT staff and customers is unnecessary, damaging, and pure folly. It is the need for control — gone mad. And if a consultant is telling you to do this, run!
IT teams are intelligent, capable, and yes, caring. They have a wonderful capacity to work directly with the business teams to develop, deliver, and support the critical technologies that sustain success.
I am your resource to sharpen this capacity and I welcome your questions — through any mechanism that works for you, my customers!
From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™
CIOs, Are Your IT Teams Truly Customer Focused
CIOs, Resolve IT Customer Service Threat
©2012 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish this post, please email email@example.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.
THAT REALLY CAUGHT MY EYES!
An IT leader blocking voice calls for emails! That’s horrible.
First of all IT leaders should have never given such high influence on customer reps. Business needs should always come first and he had no right to block such a rich communication channel!
Now going back to your point Kate of saying that IT department should come closer to business in talking the same language and I totally agree with that. It’s also true that as IT department, we (talking from my own experience) have the full responsibility on maintaining business data and accessibility secured and yes some times this has to conflict with business needs but as long as the justification is well explained to the business owners and such decisions have to be mutually agreed then there shouldn’t be a problem.
Your article coincide with a very strange timing we as a company live. Our neighboring oil company was attacked with a very severe virus that took IT weeks to recover their 30000 PCs and hundreds servers. The virus was so mean that it affected the boot sectors of the machines preventing it from starting. That company lost millions during such a short time. As an IT in our company, we kind of declared a state of emergency and had to temporarily block several business features which made it is bit inconvienet to users but we were playing it safe by thouroghly explaining our actions. Yes we had some upset users but we couldn’t satisfy all as the company’s data was on stake. Now all back to normal with a little bit of caution on handling users need security-wise but our actions were very much appreciated by top management.
Thanks for brining such an interesting topic Kate 😉 I really enjoyed it!
Your comments points out the exact moments when IT control is wise and critical. Protecting networks from intrusion, recovering from attacks you cannot prevent, and securing all critical business data — that’s wise.
Blocking internal and/or external customers from interacting with IT directly is lunacy. IT is part of the business. You do not have to align with the business, you are an integral part of the business.
Thanks so much for your contribution Khalid. Your true work examples illustrate so very well.
I’m grateful for your continued connection.