Let’s face it: users are hard. Not only does your team need to use their problem solving skills to keep the masses happy, but they also need to use their soft skills to do it with panache. Many I.T. pros* cite dealing with the public (well, internal users in most cases) as reasons they got out of Desktop Support, and while some see that role as a stepping stone, it doesn’t need to be painful! Here are some practical initiatives you can start right now.These tips work for Help Desk, too!
*I happen to love helping users, and I have recently transitioned into full-time Systems Administration. I didn’t leave my serving chops behind, however. Being a SysAdmin is the same as Desktop Support, except my workstations have become (really expensive) servers and my users are now highly technical people.
1. Automate, Automate, Automate
Just like many parts of I.T., there are a plethora of tasks within Desktop Support that can and should be automated. The 2 P’s, Printers and Passwords end up causing your team the most grief. To save hassle on passwords, create a PowerShell script that will check for and alert your team to lockouts and another to remind users via email that their password expiration is coming up (I like 14, 5, and 1 day intervals). These 2 items save saved me I-don’t-know-how-many tickets. You can deploy printers via Group Policy based on department and location to give you some relief in that department. Your end users will love it and your team will love you.
2. Make it fun for your team
To operate at a high level of customer service, especially when dealing with executives, can be mentally draining for your Desktop team. Making work more fun can relieve some of the pressure- with the help of some simple tactics.
- Invite Nerf Guns into the environment, maybe even around users if the company is hip enough.
- Encourage a relaxed dress code when possible.
- Have themed days around Star Wars, Zombies, etc.
- Give swag and encourage them to customize their work area
3. Give your team rockin’ equipment
This one is near and dear to my heart. I love gear. I run the best I can possibly convince my boss to pay for. Most support pros like good running equipment. SSDs. Gobs of RAM. Huge monitors. Slick keyboards and mice. I’m not saying analystscan’t perform well without them, but I will say that it makes working more enjoyable, and that can definitely translate to their customer interactions. In my opinion, it’s fun to get the stuff and instills a little bit of pride. They work on the computer more than just about anyone, so they need kit that will stand up to the job. Make sure you give them powerful software tools that make it easy to assist their users.
4. Create advancement and learning opportunities
Being in Desktop forever is the dream of a few dedicated freaks (think: SCCM Engineers). It is not shared by all. I.T. pros want to move up. One of the best ways you can prove you care is to provide ways to improve their skills. This is a 2-fold win. If they improve their skills, their confidence goes up, and they will interact better with end users. Of course, they become more useful to the organization and more valuable. This increases internal movement and promotions, too, which is a cost savings over recruiting and breaking in a new person.
The other edge of this sword is that they become more marketable, but as the adage goes:
CFO asks CEO: What happens if we spend money training our people and then they leave?
CEO: What happens if we don’t and they stay?
Trust me, you do not want unskilled people who stick around. Sir Richard Branson agrees with me. A lot. With services like CBT Nuggets and Pluralsight, training doesn’t need to be expensive. Also, this may go without saying, but always look to promote from within first.
5. Intervene and escalate when necessary
This is a big one for me. Sometimes, despite your technician’s best efforts, the customer is wrong. User behavior can range on the continuum from from mildly uncooperative to straight-up abusive. When this happens (and it will), be ready to coach your team member on how to diffuse the situation or in some cases step in yourself. Running interference and showing your team that you have their back will give you unbelievable credibility and love from your squad.
At the same time, be ready do deal with team members who don’t pull their weight or act like jerks to their colleagues. Few things will erode faith in your leadership than allowing team members to misbehave.
Note that most of getting your team moving forward is showing that you support them completely, as these points illustrate. Please take this to heart and put these and other good ideas into action! This will get you moving to a rockin’ Desktop Support team in no time. Comment below if you think I’m on to something, or connect with me if you think I’m nuts. Let’s chat!
Read some more of my stuff if you want to make your end users hate you quickly or if you have no idea what the heck I’m talking about and want to break into the I.T. field. If I helped inspire you to not make your users hate you, please let me know how it goes, ask questions, and keep me posted! You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and of course here on LinkedIn.