The most impactful way for technology support staff to demonstrate the utility and warranty of the services they offer is through exemplary customer service. But what is customer service? In the health industry, the phrase most often used to describe a physician or nurse’s deftness with customer service is ‘bedside manner’. Bedside manner is the difference between ‘standard of care’ and ‘standard of caring’. The physician may be the best neurosurgeon in the country but if she is unable to show that she cares then the patient perceives a low level of caring. Likewise, you may be the most skilled help desk support person, but you better be able to show an elevated level of caring to be considered excellent at customer service.
The same ‘bedside manner’ paradigm is true for technology support staff. In most cases, people can accept if the service provider is technically wrong but they will most likely be unwilling to forgive a perceived lack of caring. Too often technology support staff focus their full attention on the technology and forget to provide a strong level of caring to the person experiencing the technology issue. Again, like the physician’s bedside manner, the people you support will be willing to forgive you if you are incorrect about how to fix the problem but not if you demonstrate that you don’t care about them as individuals.
John Bielinski, a physician’s assistant, provides five elements to a great bedside manner that are transferable to technology support. The lesson here is to attain high meaningful interactions with clients to make them feel that you really care about them.
1. Acknowledge the client. When you first meet with the client forget about the technology you came to fix. Instead, focus on greeting the person in a friendly way. Perhaps you can shake hands with them, offer a friendly greeting or say something like, “I’m sorry that your computer is giving you issues but don’t worry I’m going to get this issue resolved for you.” Don’t just rush directly to the technology in the room and only focus on fixing the problem. In many cases, the technician gets so caught up in the technology issue that he fails to focus on the personal story. Perhaps the person simply needed to get to a document on the network for a meeting. Instead of spending an hour on fixing the computer, just provide her with another computer so she can retrieve and work on the document while you fix her broken computer. This demonstrates that you are in tune with the person rather than the technology.
2. Manage the perception of time. In technology support, this means not being late on your estimates for the time to repair. As John states in his video, it is best to overestimate the time to repair and finish earlier rather than underestimate and not be on time. When you state the time to repair you are creating an agreement. When you are late the perception of the client is that you don’t value her time. Always honor the agreement and be on time.
3. Check back in with the client after the service. After you have resolved the issue, the client was having, be sure to stop by and ask the client how everything is going. By doing this you immediately demonstrate that this is not about the technology rather you care about how they are doing. It also allows you to establish a dialogue with the client that is outside the stressful paradigm of a technology failure.
4. Sit and talk to the client at their level. By sitting at the same level as the client you change the tone.
5. Listen with your eyes. The eyes are certainly the windows to understanding how the client is feeling. When you take the time to really look and listen with your eyes you will do a better job of connecting personally with the client.
Providing outstanding customer service starts by connecting with people in a way that demonstrates that you care about them. By following these five lessons for a great bedside manner, technology support staff will demonstrate that caring.