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Effective Communication on the Service Desk, the organisation and beyond

It may seem obvious but a key element in delivering quality support is ensuring accurate, two-way communication between the support team and the customer. The key starting point to achieving this is to take a step back and try to understand the importance and value of effective communication skills; establish what the customer feels is important and then develop a culture of satisfying these customer needs. Elements of communication cover: verbal, non-verbal and written word both traditional and via technology.

Having established the ground rules the support teams must be prepared to learn to apply the ‘what’s important now’ approach i.e. understand and act on what’s of pressing importance to your customer (or colleague) now. They also need to understand the importance of following documented processes and procedures and review how customer service is currently provided and whether there is scope for improvement. Processes should empower us - not inhibit, they define how we’re supposed to be doing our work - they should make life easier!


Active listening

It is said that hearing is a faculty, whilst listening is a skill. Skills can be learned and honed with training, time and application. Active listening helps replace body language when we are on the phone. We need to provide verbal acknowledgements, stay focused and listen carefully – both to words and to feelings. This can bring benefits including increased customer satisfaction and a better rapport. It can also optimise call time, reduce misunderstandings and provide the potential for better, faster resolution times.

If you don’t fully understand, ask questions, make sure you paraphrase using your own words to repeat what the customer says to us for affirmation to ensure that there is clarity in the communication process.


Written communication

We should never forget that call / request / ticket logs are business documents too. Well written documentation provides an informative dialogue, a positive impression and very often re-useable data. Be sure to use spell and grammar checkers, avoid acronyms, smileys and slang and above all do not make dubious or derogatory comments. 


Meet commitments                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

IT Support Services need to provide a timely, responsive and high-quality service, be adaptable, flexible and rise to new business challenges. They also need to meet commitments, provide regular feedback, deliver return on investment, identify and implement continual service improvement activities and align IT goals with those of the business.

Customers will normally have clearly defined expectations. They need confidence that IT support is in control of their request regardless of who they speak to. They want to be kept informed and up to date with what is happening – no one likes nasty surprises. They expect a consistent and courteous service, be provided with good, sensible data and valuable, valid feedback and above all for their issue to be resolved as fast as possible within an agreed timescale. 

Every member of the IT support team is responsible for recognising and understanding the effect of commitments made. Support staff who succeed and excel at their jobs rarely do so because of technical skills alone – they also have the ability to deal with people effectively and efficiently. 

No self-respecting IT department can operate efficiently and effectively without the right attitude, the right education and support from management.

Our responsibility is to maintain customer satisfaction and ensure customers are kept informed of the status of their requests. Effective communication is simply applied common sense in understanding the needs of customers and the business. No one should be exempt in the delivery of service excellence. With the right people, skills, processes and technology, excellent customer service is virtually guaranteed.

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