We’ve all heard the saying that leading by example is one of the most powerful ways of leadership. But ironically, it’s often the most overlooked. “You must be the change you wish to see in the world,” Gandhi once said.
The best way to create culture is to transmit culture. The most obvious ways to transmit culture is through teaching and coaching. IT managers and staff look up to their senior leaders for directions. IT leaders should not limit their engagement with their employees with discussions about operation work. They should engage their subordinates in other meaningful ways so as to help them develop themselves.
The best IT teams must have a culture of continuous learning. In IT organizations, developing employees is not optional, it is a necessity. Development is necessary to acquire the skills and learn the knowledge needed to keep up with new technology and processes in order to achieve business goals. Additionally, development programs in volatile and competitive organizations like IT are important in attracting and retaining employees.
Information Technology needs future-oriented leaders. Arguably, it is the most unpredictable and most innovative area of the company. If the CIO is not forward-looking, IT will most likely neither be as competitive nor at par with competitors who are relentlessly pursuing innovation. IT leaders are fascinated about the future. They are relentless about change and impatient for progress. CIOs should always be looking forward to new technology and practices that are developing, searching for new processes, tools and methodologies and experimenting how it will make sense in business in the future.
- How many types of developmental conversations occur in your organization?
- How can you create a culture of learning that goes beyond traditional classroom training?
- In what ways do your communication tools and practices help build your team’s skills for participating in conversations about goals, changes, and barriers they face?
Photo coutesy of Ivy Remoreras Photography.
Imagine crashing your PC after having a virus issue. You need to call the IT helpdesk. You pick up the phone and call the 1-800 hotline number. Your expectations of the quality of IT’s response time is so low that you’ll settle for a day or two without a workstation. You imagine that perhaps you lost all your files and important documents in your computer. Service? Forget it. Your previous experiences with the IT helpdesk were terrible, if a service agent answers your call after 5 minutes waiting on call queue, it would be a small miracle.
Instead— you must be dreaming— your call gets picked up after two rings and a friendly service agent greets you with, “Good morning ,sir. My name is Kyra, how are you? How can I be of service to you today?” You are surprised but refreshed with the friendliness of the agent’s greeting. It’s unusual and has never been the case before — even during the last time you called them a month ago. You reply, “I’m good, thank you. I have a problem with my desktop. When I started it this morning, I got a blue screen after a couple of minutes. I don’t know what’s wrong. I think it might be a virus or something. It was working last Friday when I left.” The agent quickly and confidently replies, “Actually sir, we have a virus alert this morning that affected several users. We already sent a notice by email, and of course you didn’t receive it. We were about to call you but you beat us to that. We know the root cause of the problem for certain because of the new proactive monitoring tool that we recently implemented. Your desktop is one of those affected because you run one of our old desktop models with an older OS version on it. That made your computer more vulnerable to this new virus attack.” You are astonished with the level of information the service agent has already but still you have reservations as to whether this will impact the resolution time. Sure, she is friendly and she knows what’s going on but can she solve it?
Then you ask, “Then what should we do? It sounds like I won’t be able to use my computer today or for a couple of days perhaps?” Kyra replies confidently, “No sir, definitely not. We won’t allow that. As a matter of fact, our field-support team members are on their way to the offices of the users affected. They are making rounds as we speak. The person assigned to assist you is scheduled to arrive at 10:00 am. I think he’ll be there in minutes.”
Communication of the Service Deal
Kyra continues, “In the meantime, if you have a minute of your time to spare, I would be glad to tell you our new service mission statement. Do you have some time, sir?” You don’t have a workstation anyway so surely you have time and this wonderful service agent deserves a few extra minutes. You reply willingly, “Yes of course. I noticed a big difference in your over-all service today so far and I am pleasantly surprised. I’d be glad to hear about your new mission statement.” Kyra continued, “Thank you, sir. I am proud to say that our management and the whole IT organization came up with a common objective of improving our overall service delivery. Particularly, our technical support department which includes first level support agents, field-support service personnel and second level specialists, have the objective of providing our customers the fastest, high quality, friendly and effective IT support.”
“Sir, do you have any questions about our new mission?” You decide that it is good for IT to communicate its service offer and you feel special to be treated an important customer. You say, “No questions, Kyra, and congratulations. I’m really happy about your service. This is not what I expected. You guys really improved your service in such a short time. I’m impressed. Oh wait, I think the field support is here already. I have to go.” Kyra concludes, “Okay, sir, I will call you back after the service call to check if everything is fine. I know JB will take good care of you. Thank you and please don’t hesitate to call us again if you need anything.”
IT Field Support
Then as the field support agent comes into you office, he greets you warmly, “Good morning, sir. My name is John Bryan but you can call me JB. I am here to help you with your Desktop and I want to tell you about the two choices.” “Choices?”, you wonder incredulously. Now he is going to tell you the bad news that he needs to pull out your desktop for one day. Or maybe you get a loaner — something you’ve experienced before. At that time, you were given an incredibly old PC that was so slow you couldn’t even use it. You brace yourself for the bad news but instead he says.” I brought you a new computer. It’s a laptop. I need two hours to set it up fully with all your programs and files in it, or I can try fixing your virus problem for 30 minutes so you can work and then I can set up your new laptop for delivery next week. What do you think? ” Already impressed with the customer experience so far, you think that two hours doesn’t seem so bad. Plus, you are getting a new laptop when you were expecting at least a day of no computer. You reply, “OK, get on with the setup of the new one. I’ll wait here.” John Bryan says, “Good choice, sir. I’m sure you’ll be pleased with this new one. And finally sir, I can give you a general overview of the many capabilities of your new laptop and programs while we wait for the installations and file transfer to finish, or I could keep my mouth shut. What would you prefer?”
After everything was done, you realize that not only has the IT support services improved but you also just had a transforming experience. Talk about exceeding expectations!
I believe IT leaders have the power to embed a strong customer service culture through their influence…but culture embedding is not easy…organizations don’t create culture, it is an outcome of consistent behavior (demanded or influenced by leadership). If you provide the best customer service always, it becomes your culture. We try to make positive stories like these everyday… not always the case of course, what I am painting is the perfect world of IT support services, but this is what we aspire for.
Photo courtesy of Ivy Remoreras Photography.
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