Customer Service in IT: Strike a Balance for Added Value

  • from ITtoolkit.com

Newton's cradle which demonstrates conservation of momentum and energy using a series of swinging spheres, signifying the importance to balance end-user needs.

IT managers and their staff often find themselves in the midst of a common service conflict. On one hand, IT is called upon to continually respond to end-user requests for support and service. That's one part of the IT management paradigm. Of course, it doesn't end there. Read on for more.

On the other hand, IT must also answer to the company for the ways and means in which technology investments are managed. That is also the role of IT. And unfortunately, there will be times when one role will conflict with the other.

IT Customer Service: It's A Delicate Balance

As an example, consider the challenges involved in establishing and enforcing software standards. Within one company, individual business units might want to choose their own software, even when that software is common to the entire organization (i.e. word processing). Strict construction of standard "make the customer happy" service principles dictate that IT take all reasonable steps to assist their end-users in that effort. On the other hand, company interests may just dictate something else.... i.e.that software standards be established and enforced in order to lower support costs, enable volume purchasing, and avoid platform incompatibilities.  (Also Read:  Technology Standards Policies)

In just this one instance, the potential for conflict is evident. Since the end-users are affected by software choices on a daily basis, many of these same users may want to make their own product selections. And IT software standards, if adopted and enforced, can stand in the way.

And so, the negative perceptions develop. These end-users may conclude that ITis not responding to their needs, and is therefore not providing quality customer service. Continual service complaints can result, and IT may find itself excluded from key business decisions and activities (i.e. your end-users choose to work around you rather than with you...)

This is the question you must consider….

How can IT avoid negative customer service perceptions while serving both end-user needs and company interests?  What's the answer? IT managers must take all necessary steps to uncover potential conflict, and then find the means to manage and mitigate these conflicts before they get out of hand.


Work Smarter

Even under the best of circumstances, management is a challenge. When you learn to fast track, you’ll learn to work smarter, not harder. And that’s the value of every lesson, resource and template available at Fast Track Manage Learning. We teach you how to fast track your way to successful projects, committees and more. Learn More


Step 1: Analyze

  • Consider IT services, roles and responsibilities, and categorize each by customer and company interest served.
  • Identify priorities -i.e. are there any sound business reasons for the consideration of overall company interests above the needs and preferences of individual end-users or business areas?
  • Identify any overriding factors that could influence a service, the way it is provided, or how it is communicated, such as management directives, budgetary considerations, or regulatory issues.
  • Put it all together to form workable solutions, services, policies and procedures.

Step 2: Mitigate

  • Once you know that you have a service area that requires special attention, carefully consider the ways to minimize any negative perceptions:
  • Find the middle ground - formulate IT services to provide end-users with sufficient flexibility to meet their goals and objectives, (which implies that you understand those goals and objectives)..... but ensure that these services are also in keeping with overall company interests and technology best practices (which must also be understood).
  • Acknowledge IT potential.....not to merely manage technology, but to enhance and maximize its use and benefit. If it comes down to a delicate choice between the end-users or the company, let management make that call.

Step 3: Communicate

  • Let company management in on the conflict.....they may not realize that there may discrepancies between what IT is asked to do and what may be best to do.
  • Communicate IT policies and decisions in writing, including details and underlying reasoning.
  • Market IT services and policies through personal interaction with the end-users whenever the opportunity arises. Insights can be gained through personal interaction that might not otherwise rise to the surface.
  • Be consistent in enforcing IT policies or procedures, but also acknowledge the need for valid exceptions.
  • Obtain upper management support for all policies, and reiterate the importance of that support, particularly when a policy is tested.
  • Encourage and provide mechanisms for feedback from IT staff, end-users and their management. Listen to IT staff...they may observe the signs of negative perceptions long before problems are actually escalated to management.
Source: Unless noted otherwise, all content is created by and for ITtoolkit.com


About Us

Right Track Logo

ITtoolkit.com staff writers have experience working for some of the largest corporations, in various positions including marketing, systems engineering, help desk support, web and application development, and IT management.

ITtoolkit.com is part of Right Track Associates, proprietors and publishers of multiple web sites including ITtoolkit.com, Fast Track Manage, HOA Board List and more. We started ITtoolkit.com in 2001 and have continued to grow our web site portfolio, Toolkit products, and related data services. To learn more, visit us at Right Track Associates.

Stay Informed

Useful information without inbox overload.

we do not sell our list

subscribe now
I.T. Service Planning The Fast Track Project Toolkit Start For Free

The IT Service Strategy Toolkit teaches you how to fast track IT service planning using the time-saving “service strategy process”. The goals are simple... to manage IT departments, services and projects in a common-sense manner, to align business and technology, and realize maximum value, acceptance, and utilization - all at the lowest overhead costs. It’s all about adding value, in less time and with greater success. Get lifetime access to a growing IT service curriculum of lessons, videos, reference materials, templates and more. Start for free.

Committee Management The Project Committee Toolkit Start For Free

The Project Committee Toolkit teaches you how to manage successful committees using the "committee concept" process. Committees are one of the most effective ways to organize, deliberate and make decisions. But too often, committee success is hampered by conflict and bureaucracy. When you follow the committee concept process, you’ll learn to avoid these pitfalls and ensure that your committees are properly formed, managed and staffed. Get lifetime access to a growing committee management curriculum of lessons, videos, reference materials, templates and more. Start for free.

Project Management The Fast Track Project Toolkit Start For Free

The Fast Track Project Toolkit teaches you how to deliver on-time, on-plan projects using "strategic project fast tracking". The fast track approach is a time-saving methodology, designed specifically for "real world" project circumstances - when you are being asked to do more than time and resources may allow. Fast tracking is the way to work around these obstacles and deliver prioritized results. Get lifetime access to a growing project planning curriculum of lessons, videos, reference materials, templates and more. Start for free.