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Really Listening to Your Customers

Adam Seeber had no idea what he was doing when he talked his way into a Service Delivery Manager role in 2010. In this blog post, he discusses what it was like to actually learn what that position required – and the eventual discovery that the group he joined was actually failing in service delivery. The problems came by way of customer complaints. His customers complained about things that all IT organizations bump into: attitude from staff, a lack of “seriousness” when it came to urgency, and the breaching of SLAs. Seeber seemed to be on a sinking ship, and the only reason customers kept coming back was because of the promise that they would do better next time. Seeber recognized the problem : We'd stopped listening to our customers, and I mean  really  listening. They'd say “you're taking too long to answer our calls” and we'd hear “oh, we need to improve our Incident Management”. They'd say “this problem happens every month” and we'd think “oh, we need to tweak our Problem Management”. They were after outcomes, and we were wrapped up in processes. We'd stopped listening to our people: in an effort to meet the constant and unyielding demands of our paying customers, we'd ignored our team's cries for structure, for career development, for accountability and responsibility, we didn't ask for their ideas or their input. We stopping thinking about them as people and starting thinking about them as resources. 12 months after I had wandered wide-eyed and terrified into this wonderful world of IT Management I sat down with my CEO and said “Put me in charge of the team, I think I can fix it.” And, pleasantly surprising me, he listened. His solution was to sit down with the customer and ask them, frankly, what they hated and what they liked. He went to his team and asked why they worked for the company and what they hoped to get from it. Seeber then put that data together to realize, simply, that people were the most important factor in the business – not ITSM and not the best practices that ITSM tools enforce.   Using this intelligence, he was able to realign the mission of the organization and provide better service to his customers.

About Matthew Kabik

Matthew Kabik is the former Editor of Computer Aid’s Accelerating IT Success. He worked at Computer Aid, Inc. from 2008 to 2014 in the Harrisburg offices, where he was a copywriter, swordsman, social media consultant, and trainer before moving into editorial.

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