7 Ways to Reach Out to Your Users During COVID-19

Written by Tim Haight

I'm VP of Technology Services for CGNET. I love to travel and do IT strategic planning.

April 8, 2020

Written by Tim Haight

I'm VP of Technology Services for CGNET. I love to travel and do IT strategic planning.

April 8, 2020

We’ve heard of several great cases of IT managers going the extra mile to help users during COVID-19, particularly to help them connect remotely, but also to keep their computers running. In case you’re looking for more to do, however, here are some ideas.

 

1. Maintain a Customer-service Perspective

As folks like ITIL have been telling us for ages, our organizations, and our end users, are our customers. Just like wildly successful companies like Amazon or Salesforce, we must focus on keeping our customers happy. I’ve been surprised, over the years, by several IT managers who don’t have this attitude. Some even manage to think of their users as pests. Usually, I’ve seen this attitude come back to bite the holder.

2. Be Proactive

A customer-service perspective means being proactive. Don’t wait for them to come to you with issues during this time. Reach out to them.

3. Don’t Send Out a Survey, Especially Now

It’s possible to think that the best way to find out what users think is to send them a survey. Don’t do it. Particularly now, users are going to be busy and distracted, such as by kids at home, and your response rate will be low. This is not going to be a scientific survey, anyway, so the results won’t really be representative. Some users may even see a survey as impersonal. Use the more personal methods below.

4. Go with Email or Chat, Plus a Video Call

The best way to achieve good, personal, informative contact is with an interview. I’ve realized this after years of interviewing users for our strategic IT assessments. It’s amazing how much people will tell you about their IT needs in relatively unstructured interviews.

In this case, however, it’s best not to call these busy, distracted people up at random. Send them an email and ask if there’s a good time to do a video meeting or a call. If you know they use chat, you can use that. Reach them through what they use.

When you talk to them, keep the questions general and let them talk. You’re mostly just wanting to check up on how they’re doing and find out if they’re OK. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation, unless it turns into one.

5. Start a Discussion

If you’re using something like Microsoft Teams, where you can post to conversations, invite your users to join one on IT needs. Put some questions on it to stimulate discussion. Sometimes this doesn’t get much, but it’s a positive thing to do. Try calling it a “Suggestion Box.”

6. Make Resources Available

As you run across useful articles on working at home, how to use file sharing, or other information your users might want, post them somewhere and let users know where they are. Be sure to ask for suggestions about what other kinds of resources should be posted.

7. Use Your Help Desk

If you have an in-house help desk, use it. Very often, your help desk people are the most popular IT staff. Take advantage of this and let them make some of the personal calls, although you might want to reach the higher-ranking folks at your organization yourself. If you have an outside help-desk consultant, inform them of the steps you’re taking to reach users and provide resources.

Finally

You can take my word for it, if you take these steps it will pay off in support for IT. I’ve seen this happen time and again. Reach out to users, and they will like and respect you.

 

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