My client was frustrated with team members who were brusque with end-users. These particular team members didn’t support paying customers, they supported an internal engineering team. They didn’t see their end-users as customers. In fact, their behavior toward their end-users was almost like older siblings would treat a pesky little brother or sister. They would refer an end-user to someone else without including that person in the email chain. They wouldn’t ask relevant questions to gain a full understanding of the issue. They didn’t take ownership of issues through escalation. And they were terse with their responses to questions from end-users, often providing inadequate and incomplete one-word answers. When an end-user would ask if something was done, the support tech would reply “No” with no explanation, nor even an estimate of the time to completion. It was almost as though they saw themselves and their department as an island, having nothing to do with the rest of the company.
Have you ever gone to someone with a problem and had that person say, “That’s not my problem.” Or “That’s not my job.”, or “That’s not my department.”? It’s super frustrating, right? I mean, you’re just trying to do your job and something is getting in the way. You’re just trying to find a solution and this person is blowing you off! That’s what was happening with the end-users in the engineering department. They were just trying to do their jobs, but the tech support staff was arrogant, rude, and generally unhelpful. Their mistake was in not putting themselves in the position of the members of the engineering team.
If it’s a problem, or potentially a problem, anywhere in the company, you need to take ownership of it until it’s handed off to the right person either through a referral or, preferably, a direct hand-off, or until you resolve it. Isn’t that what you’d want? After all, we’re all inter-connected.
Look, one human-to-another, we certainly have a business responsibility to take care of our end-users, whether they’re paying customers or internal customers. We also have a moral responsibility to take care of our fellow humans. Your customer may or may not be someone who pays your company. Don’t get hung up on dictionary definitions. For the purpose of this discussion (and probably from the perspective of your boss), a customer is anyone who needs your unique skills and talents to do their job. It could be an end-user, it might be a co-worker, it certainly includes your boss. It’s about developing an attitude of service toward others.
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