Advice for IT Support in working with End Users

I was lucky in having an amazing teacher when I was saved from the retail world of technology and brought into the real world. "The technology you know isn't as important as your ability to deal with people, anybody can be taught technology" was one of the first lessons I was taught and have kept it close. Between much talk on people's view of IT as a department and a new addition to my team I decided to document what I've been taught, learned over the years, or get bad results when I constantly ignore good advice.

  • Have an SLA on response time to customers requests - 
    • Provide a response including one or more of the following
      • an estimated completed time
      • request for more information
      • pre-written fix to common problems
  • Escalate to Teammate or higher when needed.
    • Though it is important to be able to work through problems, our purpose is to keep the operation consistently running smooth without downtime. Don't experiment on other peoples time.
  • Every user's issue is important to them, if there is a need to complete other tasks before getting to a users issue it is important that they know we understand their need
  • When a request is made that cannot be satisfied for whatever reason (staffing, budget, completely ridiculous) do your best to give an alternate solution don't leave them unable to perform a task
  • If you don't know an answer tell the user you will look it up and get back to them, don't make it up.
    • There are many users that will check your answers and will make life difficult if they catch you doing so
  • Get to know people, help out at their desks, call them instead of using long email threads
    • We are less likely to be hated when there is a face and personality behind the evil IT department.
  • Find a middle ground for communicating with users, don't speak the same as you would at a geeked out conference or like you would a child. Provide relevant information that is helpful to them. (The hardest one for me to follow, I do well until I'm asked a question that I get excited about making the nerd take over)
  • There will be tasks that users need shortcuts for, some are reasonable and some are not. It is important to be able to recognize unreasonable ones and find a way to deny the request.
  • When possible teach a user how to complete a task instead of doing it for them.
    • They may ask multiple times, let them drive and see what they can do without assistance and step in only when needed.
  • Notify users of changes and/or system outages with enough lead time to allow users to prepare/plan accordingly.
    • In certain cases it is also important to get user's input about the changes, in the end they are the ones using the system and should have a part in deciding the most productive configuration (if possible).
  • Communicate when an issue is resolved, users will often wait to hear from you before attempting task again.
  • Follow up with users after a fix, give them a period of time to accurately determine whether changes helped.
  • If your work results in a major inconvenience for a user or worse, understand their frustration and do not just write it off as needed or not your fault, listening will help prevent the same thing from happening in the future and will hopefully stop from being hated.

I can be reached for comments, questions or ideas on twitter @Try2StopUs

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