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Customers Don’t Think Like IT Pros

Maybe it’s time somebody talked to you about your language (and I don’t mean computer code). In their daily interactions with business customers, ITSM professionals often prefer to use the language of technology. But Joe the IT Guy wants us to stop and think about how this mindset comes across to people outside the IT community, and how it sometimes inhibits true communication.

The Language

Put yourself in the perspective of the customer. When you hear other professionals–mechanics, plumbers, etc.–using jargon, you’re likely to suspect that:

  • They can’t problem solve past the nuts and bolts.
  • They’re not personally invested in the people side of their job.
  • They’re trying to rip me off by hiding unnecessary costs behind fancy lingo.

Probably the last scenario is the one most often perceived by customers. Is your language the kind that acts as a “smoke screen” rather than a magnifying glass?

The Thinking behind the Language

Let’s delve even deeper into the matter. If you think your language might be problematic, what about the thinking that spawns the language? Is your mindset service-centric, or do you find yourself defaulting on the technical creation of a project?

In any professional scenario, the tendency is to forget that IT is the means to an end, and not the end itself. To be fair though, this is not unusual outside of IT too – it’s easy to work in a large company without understanding how the company makes money (or even that the company is an entity designed to make money), or how individual and team activities ultimately contribute to business goals, customer satisfaction, and corporate revenues.

For instance, an electrician might think in terms of installing new cabling. But as the customer, you don’t want new cabling. You want power available to new areas for consumption. The creation of that product is but a means to an end.

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About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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