As a child, I was taught the importance of a positive attitude, and that lesson carried through my early high school jobs and into my IT career. It can help defuse a tense tech support situation, build trust in advance of future problems cropping up, and make a positive impact to the business as a whole.
Along the way, I've also heard the term "customer service" tossed around in meetings, but no one takes it seriously. It's more than a buzzword. It should be put into action all the time in combination with an upbeat outlook.
Put people first
We all probably have our own way of dealing with people who are upset over a tech problem. Here's mine.
Before I investigate the problem, I let the person vent. About 80 percent of the time, they have legitimate tech issues, but they can't clearly express what's causing them. Showing concern for them first, then delving into the nuts and bolts of the problem changes the interaction right from the beginning.
Next, I have them demonstrate the problem while I'm there. For issues that seem too strange to explain or believe, this helps in more ways than one: I can see what they're experiencing firsthand and reassure them that they indeed have a legitimate complaint.
Finally, I have the person demonstrate that the problem is resolved before I leave. This gives me a chance to make sure everything's working right and the person understands what to do. It also gives the person the reassurance that the problem is truly fixed.
Years ago when I worked in the tech department at a major chip manufacturer, the business area I was responsible for had seven vice presidents, each with an executive assistant. Over time, they started to proactively warn us of potential problems before they would escalate, and we established a good rapport between our departments.
However, one IT employee had difficulty interacting in these situations. He was inexperienced, which didn't help, but more often than not, he spoke before thinking it through.
One day, I learned that this IT employee had gone to help an executive assistant about a problematic hard drive. Through the course of troubleshooting, he accidentally lost some of the data.
However, his choice of words made the situation sound much more dire than it was: He told her bluntly that her data was gone, and that was that. She took it to mean all of her data -- 10 years of work -- was gone. She was understandably very upset.
When I went back to her desk with the IT employee, I explained to her that we could recover almost all of her data from backups and only that day's data was gone. She was greatly relieved.
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