Don addresses 600 IT professionals about IT Customer Service at the 2019 Church IT Network conference in Kansas City.
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This is Thanksgiving week in the U.S. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday, because it’s always been the least commercialized of our major holidays. I love the time with family and friends, the great food, and the opportunity to reflect on the blessings of my life.
I recently flew from Houston to Seattle on Alaska Airlines. I experienced three examples of good customer service from, gasp, an airline. Yes, I know it may seem hard to believe. There are lessons here for those of us who support end-users. Two examples were with Alaska Airlines and one was with Delta. Here they are.
How’s your empathy quotient? Your ability to empathize may be your most important ability as a member of the I.T. support staff. Empathy means providing caring and personal service. Dictionary.com defines empathy as “the intellectual identification with … the feelings, thoughts or attitudes of another.” Empathy is your ability to truly put yourself in your user’s position so you can understand his/her frustration. Once we truly understand our user’s frustration, fears, and aggravations, we can start the process of delivering a meaningful solution for them. Sometimes it only takes a moment to really understand where our user is coming from. Sometimes it takes several minutes of listening combined with empathetic statements such as “I understand why you feel that way.” or “I’d feel that way, too, if I were in your situation.” Regardless, until you can empathize with your user, you’re not ready to start the technical aspects of the support session. Remember, it may be your technical expertise that solves the problem, but it’s your skill in dealing with people that produces satisfied end-users.
For more than 40 years, Don Crawley has worked with technology, from broadcasting to automation systems to data networks. A former IT trainer and consultant, he is the author of eight books for IT professionals including The Compassionate Geek. He’s especially good at helping IT teams work together so they can get things done.