Kansas City Chiefs’ place kicker Harrison Butker made a perfect 39-yard field goal to tie the recent AFC championship game with 8 seconds on the clock and send it in to overtime. It was a dramatic moment in a game filled with drama. That had to be an unbelievable amount of pressure on Butker, but one of the announcers commented that his success is based on staying calm in the moment and focusing on the fundamentals.
In our world in IT, we face different kinds of pressure than an NFL place kicker, but it’s still important for us to stay calm and focus on the fundamentals.
The Fundamentals of IT Customer Service
So, what are the fundamentals for a career IT person? Obviously, different jobs may have different fundamentals, but some of the basics are consistent across the entire field.
Competence is one of the five principles of IT customer service success. This is about keeping your knowledge current on the systems you support. It means updating your certifications as they expire.
Be Polite and Respectful
Remember your manners, even with your co-workers with whom you’ve worked for years (it’s easy to take them for granted), and even with people you don’t like.
Answer Emails and Return Phone Calls Promptly
Even if it’s just to acknowledge an email, answer all emails promptly. Same thing with voice mail on your phone. I use a guideline for myself of answering emails within 24 hours, or by first thing Monday morning for emails that come in late Friday or over the weekend. When you don’t answer an email, the other person starts to wonder if you received it.
Same thing with phone calls. Return them promptly, even if it’s just to say, “I got your call and I’m working on it.” If your customer has to make multiple attempts to reach you, he or she starts to feel unimportant or disrespected.
Have Empathy for Others
Empathy is another of the five principles of IT customer service success. Put yourself in the other person’s position. What would you want if the tables were turned? This applies to end users, other customers, co-workers, vendors, and everyone else with whom you interact.
Do What You Say You Will, When You Say You Will
Use the concept of “under-promise so you can over-deliver” when making commitments to end users and other customers. People make plans based on your commitment to get back to them at a particular time. If you can’t fulfill your commitment, be proactive in letting the other person know there’s a delay.
It’s not enough to follow the fundamentals sometimes. You’ve got to be fully committed, “all-in” all the time, not just when you feel like it or when you’re feeling good.
Remember Your Fundamentals
Delivering great customer service involves many important techniques such as dealing with an angry customer or advanced business writing techniques. Just as important as advanced techniques, however, is remembering your fundamentals: Be competent, be polite and respectful, answer emails promptly, have empathy for others, do what you say you will when you say you will, and be consistent. The fundamentals provide a great foundation on which you can deliver consistently outstanding customer service while simultaneously building a great career reputation for yourself.
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