As a Senior Network Engineer I’ve seen many end-user issues that look like big problems but are actually very simple. The difficulty lies in a lack of understanding between end users and IT teams who support them. In this article, I want to give some advice to improve communications and relationships between these two groups.

Maher Abdelshkour article image

End users

Here are tips to help you get the best tech support possible and make the process is less painful going forward.

1. Be honest about the importance of your issue. A well-run IT department operates exactly like a well-run ER.

  • We receive the issues
  • We triage the issues to identify critical ones and give them priority of what to work on first. We then serve the rest of issues according to the order they arrive

This is how any ticket system operates, without exception. The critical issues in IT are:

  • System outages
  • An issue that costs the customer money
  • Problems that completely prevent a worker from doing his/her job

Before contacting the IT department, please make sure to identify your issue as critical or not critical, and if there is a queue please understand that critical issues must be dealt with first. Your patience and flexibility goes a long way.

2. Keep us updated and responsible. We want to provide the best service possible. If our solution does not meet your needs, let us know and hold us accountable. We love to learn about your needs and your business so we can serve you better.

3. Be our eyes. Do not hesitate to contact IT support to report a problem. Your early input could play a key role in preventing an issue from becoming critical. You don’t need to wait for your management team to report the problem. Send it to us directly.

4. Closed tickets can be reopened. When we close a ticket, it doesn’t mean we can’t work on an issue again. If your problem isn’t resolved, feel free to tell us and be as specific as possible so we can understand your business needs. We will dig deeper and make sure to solve it the way that satisfies you.

If you’ve noticed, there is a a common factor between all of the above four points, it’s COMMUNICATION . It’s the single most important thing in any business relationship, and IT is no different. Despite the reputation of our industry, we want to know more. We thrive on knowledge, and knowing you and your business will help us be better at ours. If your IT provider doesn’t value that knowledge and communication, then it’s time to find a new one.

IT Professionals

The most important message for the IT professional is that the end user is not someone we should cope with, but someone we should partner with. In researching this article, I found very few people talking about the ego and superiority complex in IT and how to deal with it. Here, I’ve decided to give some advice to my fellow IT professionals and ask them to consider the following:

1.  It’s good for you to take pride in your successes, but having too big an ego can be extremely detrimental to your career. If your actions are motivated by self-importance, then you’re doomed to fail. You might not fail right away, but ego is eventually going to catch up to you and damage your career in ways you can’t heal.

2. Listen carefully and try to put yourself in their shoes. Their problems may seem so easy to us and we’ll never imagine ourselves struggling with the same problems our users do. We’re high-level IT professionals and this is innate for us, but our extensive knowledge can actually be a BIG barrier to our clients. Imagine yourself being given responsibility for landing a hijacked plane, with no prior instructions. Visualizing that complete lack of knowledge helps with empathy.

3. Keep cool and take a walk. You’re not in a competition. Don’t be stressed and angry or you’ll tend to make poor decisions. If you start to feel your emotions welling up, take a walk. This way, you’ll be able to calm down and think of the best way to deal with the situation.

4. Always remember, the clients have given you their trust. Don’t break this trust relationship. No matter how troublesome or hard they may be, they’re giving you their trust. If you’ve asked them for access to their sensitive data, they will grant you access even if they don’t like it, but they trust you and will accept it.

5. Whether you like it or not, your job requires customer service. Don’t look at yourself as just a problem solvers. Serving the customer’s needs is as important as resolving the problems.

6. Being an IT professional doesn’t mean you’re more intelligent, smarter or have a higher IQ than the customers. Listen to their point of views carefully. Sometimes they have better solutions, and if not, listen and correct them but don’t deal with them from your ivory tower. “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is STUPID”.. Albert Einstein

7. Interact with your team. This is very critical and important for all IT professionals, especially consultants and solution providers. You can’t see the problem and make decisions on how to fix it without interacting with your team. Educating them and learning from them will prevent a lot of trouble and will be one of the most rewarding parts of being in IT.

The relationship between IT and end users is most effective when both sides work together and make compromises. Now my question is, if both sides have read this article and tried to follow their points, Cui bono? (Who benefits?).