Takeaway: IT departments always have a lot on their plates. Here are some ways to ensure things run more smoothly and get better results.For many companies, the IT department serves as the backbone and nerve center, keeping information flowing smoothly throughout the system. The IT department occupies a unique position in the company hierarchy. Its task is not necessarily connected to the company’s main operations (indeed, all types of companies have IT departments, from food to fashion) but it is not independent from the rest of the departments.
While IT personnel are not necessarily subordinates to other employees, they do maintain a sort of customer service position. Providing IT support to employees is an important task for any IT department in a company. This allows people in the company to perform their tasks efficiently and increase the company’s productivity. So how can they do that job better? Here are 10 tips any IT department should consider. (Working in IT has its drawbacks. Read more in 10 Reasons It Doesn’t Pay to Be the IT Guy.)
Have a Ticket System
Many large companies that provide technical support to their clients have a ticketsystem to keep track of their tasks and track the progress on any job. Even if it’s internal, a simple ticket system can help organize the department so that techs don’t lose sight of what needs to be done. The most basic thing a ticket system should have is the ability to auto-respond with a ticket number, and a “notes” field, so that technicians can record important information about the ticket’s progress.
… Or At Least a Dedicated Email Address
Some companies may not have the resources (or want) to have a fully functional ticket system. A good alternative would be to set up a dedicated email address for questions and support issues, with an auto-responder for new emails.
Send Fewer Emails
Spend time replying with the right questions in one email or message. The problem many IT personnel have is that they tend to lose hours just writing emails or sending messages back and forth. For example, if they receive an email saying “I can’t get email,” they may send off a quick reply with “What device are you using?” which can then get a reply of “My laptop,” to which they will reply, “What OS is it?” This can literally go on all day. Instead, IT should take the time to ensure they get all the information they need in one email, then provide one response. Spending a few minutes replying to the person in detail can help cut down on endless back-and-forth conversations.
Provide Info About Known Bugs
Provide an FAQ or “Known Bugs” page. Most people have the same issues as other users. By providing an FAQ for everyone, or perhaps a page that details known bugs (and what is being done about them), the IT department can cut down on the repetitive emails or messages they have to answer – not to mention animosity about whether issues are being addressed.
Create a Forum
For larger companies with a big user base, it may make sense to create a forum where people can list their issues or concerns. This allows employees to respond to each other and help each other out.
This seems like a simple – or even logical – thing to do, but many IT departments still use “the team” or “your support team” when dealing with requests. This is not only annoying to many users, but it can also make it sound like the department is trying to avoid accountability and responsibility. If IT staff respond to each request personally and include their names, this will help employees feel like the request will be handled and also provide them with a way to get a hold of someone when they really need help.
Provide a Time Frame
Let people know when an issue will be fixed. Again, this is something that may seem like common sense, but few people actually take the time to send a message to the person requesting support once the issue is fixed. Not only is this courteous, but it also gives a time stamp and a paper trail should other issues arise.
Any department or company wants to know how they are doing and how they can improve their services. After resolving a request, it’s a good idea to solicit feedback from the employee. Have a link ready to a form or simply ask them what they thought of the service.
Don’t Tolerate Abuse
It’s easy for people to get frustrated, especially those who work in high-pressure jobs. In some cases, this can mean taking frustrations out on other people, like IT staff. While many executives view IT department staff as subordinates, that doesn’t mean they are servants. IT department managers and heads should not tolerate abuse from other departments, especially those who verbally abuse employees.
Because IT departments handle mostly internal matters, it’s easy to be casual or even brusque when it comes to handling requests. IT personnel, however, should always project a professional, or even a friendly tone, when responding to requests. A courtesy can go a long way.