4 ways to improve customer service in IT

  • Encourage a customer-service mindset by helping your tech employees see IT as a mini-business.

  • Add value to the company by helping your IT staff understand the business and its value in the marketplace.

  • Stop thinking of change as a periodic disruption of the status quo and instead see it as a river of change.

The IT department at some companies is thought of as a separate, standalone organization with its own policies and rules. Sometimes, it’s even loathed as a roadblock to progress.

If this sounds like the atmosphere at your company, it might be time to focus on building stronger relationships between your tech staff and members of other business units. Relations can sometimes be eased if the IT staff thinks of their department as a mini-business and their colleagues in other parts of the company as their customers. To help your IT workers adopt this customer-service mindset, they must understand these four aspects of your enterprise.

1. Recognize the forces that drive the business

To truly add value to the company, your IT staff needs to understand the business and its value in the marketplace. This requires internalizing the corporate strategy, as well as the organization’s challenges and why they exist. Reach out across organizational boundaries; if you don’t meet with people, you’ll never understand them. Pay attention. It’s amazing what people will tell you when you listen to what they mean, not just what they say. Look for conflict. Where there is conflict, there is an opportunity to innovate.

2. Get to know the company’s customers

The IT staff should know the answers to questions like: How do the company products and services address customer needs? Are there different market segments with unique needs? Are there any opportunities to make relationships stickier by sharing information? IT can give customers information to help them derive more value from what they buy, or it can compile data about customers so the company can understand them better.

3. Understand what vendors have to offer

Managing third-party vendors needs to be a core competency for the IT staff. Understand the strengths of those you work with. What happens after the ink dries on a contract is what really matters to all parties. The relationship should develop into a partnership in which ideas and concerns flow freely. Once a sound relationship hits the slippery slope of a “vendor issue,” it may become difficult to re-establish.

4. Learn how technology can help the company grow

Big data technology that aggregates information from various sources and identifies patterns are giving companies new ways to create value. This approach to programming is also shifting to environments that generate value using highly distributed data and processing techniques. This shift will require IT workers to develop new skills and flexibility.

Enabling a river of change

There are many different forces pushing businesses to change. These will be enabled by IT, essentially adding fuel to the fire of change. Everyone, including the IT staff, needs to stop thinking of change as a periodic disruption of the status quo and instead see it as a river of change. It may go slower or faster, but it doesn’t stop. We need to be flexible, adapt, and generate energy from it, not try to hold it back.

Charlie Bess is an independent IT consultant. All opinions are his own. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.

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