Tag Archives: mike sisco it manager tools

Client Satisfaction Survey to assess IT support

phoneHow well is your IT Support Organization doing?

The real answer lies “in the eyes of the beholder” as they say. What this means here is that your client’s perspective is what’s important, , , not what you and your IT staff think.

I’m not trying to stir up trouble but I do want to make a point.

IT managers usually have the same perspective – almost always they view how their IT support organization is doing this way:

  • “Our IT employees work very hard and on the right things for our company.”
  • “Our clients do not understand nor appreciate us.”
  • “Clients do not do what they need to do to use our technology effectively.”
  • “We don’t have enough money to do the job.”

Some of this may be true but the bottom line is that when you focus IT support, your client’s perspective is what’s really important.

Do you know what your client would say when asked about their IT support?

There are a few questions you should always have a good grasp about what they will say:

  1. “Is the IT support organization responsive to your needs?”
  2. “Is IT support effective in resolving your technical problems?”
  3. “Is IT support focused on your needs and issues?”
  4. “Are IT support employees professional and courteous in providing IT support?”

At a minimum, you need to evaluate and understand these issues on a somewhat regular basis. To do this, you can use a simple IT Support – Client Satisfaction Survey. There are only 5 questions and requires only a few minutes to complete.

IT Support Survey

CLICK HERE to download the survey tool.

A STRONG Recommendation in conducting surveys
Rather than sending a survey out and hoping your clients will fill them out and return to you, , , visit or call your client to conduct your survey and fill out the form yourself.

There are several reasons:

  • You will get a much higher response, , , no one likes to fill out surveys.
  • If the response is negative, you can ask a follow-up question or ask for an example to better understand your client’s perspective. You will learn much more than if they simply fill out the survey.
  • Visiting your client and communicating with them one-on-one is always a good thing for you to do.

If you conduct a client survey, be sure to follow-up with results of the survey and actions to be taken to improve IT support. Otherwise, “Why do one?” It helps you gain credibility when you follow-up with specific action items.

Another thing to consider is to conduct your surveys twice a year, , , at least annually, and use the same questions each time. Doing this will help you monitor trends and see if you are making progress in providing support for your clients.

Communicate ‘Cost of Downtime’ to get through to senior managers

questionHave you ever tried to get an infrastructure project funded only to discover that it is like “pulling teeth” to get your senior manager’s approval?

If so, it is probably because your senior manager is having major difficulty understanding what you are talking about. All he hears is that you are asking for lots of money, , , and that’s not something he lets go of without understanding the value of what he will receive from the investment.

Senior executives normally do not understand technology, , , and they don’t want to.

Well, if that’s the case, , , how do you get a technology project funded that’s critical for the stability and support of your infrastructure? You know how important it is but you aren’t getting the message across to your boss, the CEO.

Something that will help is to discuss the project in terms of business value, , , and certainly not in technical terms.

Discuss “WHY”, , , not “WHAT”!

“WHY” deals with benefits, , , i.e., business value. “WHAT” deals with technology.

Unfortunately as former technical people, IT managers tend to discuss the “What” and not the “WHY”. It’s a guaranteed way to put your CEO to sleep or give him a major headache.

Business value includes one or more of five very specific things:

  • Increase revenue
  • Decrease cost
  • Improve productivity
  • Differentiate the company
  • Improve client satisfaction

When you change your presentation to highlight the business value your company will receive by making the infrastructure investment, your senior manager hears and understands you, , , and when this happens, he makes a decision that usually goes your way if there is sufficient value for the investment.

A tool that can help significantly is to paint a picture of the ‘cost of downtime’ that your project recommendation will help eliminate.

Calculating “cost of downtime” is straightforward, but first you need to visualize what we are talking about. Below is a simple infrastructure scenario:

Cost of Downtime example

In this example, we literally “paint a downtime picture” to show the following:

  • Corporate HQ Office is home of the Data Center where there are three servers.
  • There are five remote offices (Atlanta, Denver, New York, etc.)
  • In each office we list the number of Users (500 at HQ, 100 in Atlanta, etc.)
  • We estimate the average salary of a company employee is $20/hour.
  • The green filled circles are routers.
  • Three downtime scenarios are highlighted:
  1. If the Atlanta office router goes down or they lose connectivity, the productivity loss at 100% is $2,000/hour.
  2. If the HQ router goes down (green filled circle on the Corporate HQ box), all remote offices lose connectivity and 100% productivity impact will be $20,000/hour.
  3. If the E-mail server crashes it affects productivity of all 1,500 workers. At 10% productivity factor, the impact is $3,000/hour.

Using these assumptions you can quantify the ‘cost of downtime’ for any component in your company, , , even a zone printer or a single PC.

Once you and your client can visualize the downtime scenario we created above, you can list key components in a downtime chart and refer to it when trying to justify an infrastructure project.

costofdowntime

CLICK HERE to download the Cost of Downtime tool.

Downtime has huge cost and productivity implications for your company. If you need to implement a redundant router at the HQ building to reduce the risk of having a single router point of failure for 1,000 of your remote office workers, it is pretty straightforward and easy to get funded when the CEO sees the potential productivity cost risk of downtime with a single router.

Use a Client Rescue Guide to address difficult clients

smile-unhappyFrom time to time your IT organization will probably experience a client who is unhappy, , , maybe even one who becomes a “problem client”.

For the most part, your IT organization’s “client” includes the non-IT department managers of your company and their employees. We often call them “Users”.

However, don’t forget the executives of your company. They and their Administrative Assistants are also part of your client base.

You may also have external clients. For example, if you develop and license software, you support the external clients who license the software.

A negative client is bad for your IT organization. What is it they say, “An unhappy client tells 20 other people about their problem.”?

That’s right, bad news spreads like wildfire so it is important to address and resolve an unhappy client situation. The great news is that when you turn an unhappy client around, they can be allies forever.

Unhappy clients are actually opportunities for you and your IT organization. Most clients do not want to be unhappy with their IT support team. Identify the issue and take appropriate action and you are on your way to creating a strong partner.

I use a simple 6-step process to address an unhappy client situation:

Step 1 – Define the problem.
To improve a bad client situation, you must know what the problem is. Your employees may not have a clue as to what the real problems are so you have to interview the client to get to the problem.

Step 2 – Quantify the issues.
In quantifying the problem, you must quantify and articulate the specific issues that come from the client’s discussion. You won’t be able to solve the problem unless you are very specific as to the issues that are causing the problem. After listening to the client, list the issues specifically that must be addressed to resolve the situation.

Step 3 – Gain client agreement on the issues and commitment to what will occur when the issues are addressed.
Once you have listed the issues that must be addressed, gain concurrence from the client until you know you have listed every specific issue to be addressed. When you positively address the issues causing the problem, identify what the client should be committed to do. This might mean paying for outstanding invoices, develop a positive relationship with the IT organization, etc. It must be a win-win for you and the client for this effort to be a success.

Step 4 – Develop an action plan to address the issues and gain client agreement on the plan.
Develop a specific action plan, or project, to positively address all issues. Be conservative in what you plan to commit to in terms of timing, cost, and specific deliverables. In other words, include plenty of buffer and position your organization to over-deliver. Communicate the plan to the client and gain agreement that the action items will positively address the issues identified.

Step 5 – Execute the plan.
Execute the plan and be sure to do a quality and timely job. Remember, this may be your second or third chance so success is critical this time.

Step 6 – Over-communicate status of the plan.
Communicate daily unless everyone agrees that less often is appropriate. When trying to turn a problem client situation around, you must over-communicate.

When you complete the projects that positively address the client’s issues, you may ask the client to fulfill his part of the objective. This may be to pay an invoice, be more supportive of your support organization, or whatever the client agreed to do once the issues have been addressed as discussed in Step 3.

smile-happyCLICK HERE to download the tool and start converting unhappy clients to happy ones.

Big Benefits by Communicating Annual IT Accomplishments

successful trendYour IT employees need encouragement and reinforcement in the good they are doing and what they are accomplishing. If their IT manager doesn’t make a point to do this, no one will know how much they are doing for your company.

Let me tell you a story from my early years of managing IT.

It was January and I was preparing to hold an Annual Kickoff Meeting for my IT organization. When I worked for IBM several years prior we always held an annual Kickoff Meeting to “energize the troops”, discuss the coming year’s strategies, and to give out a few awards. Our Jackson, Mississippi office combined with the Little Rock, Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee offices to do this. It was great for building teamwork, getting everyone on the same page for the new year, , , and having some fun. At IBM in those days, we “worked hard and played hard”.

I knew from experience holding an Annual Kickoff Meeting for my IT staff would be a positive motivator. I also knew I would need some things to help me make it a success.

One of the key parts of a successful Kickoff Meeting is recognizing past year accomplishments. So, I began listing the accomplishments our IT organization achieved in the previous year.

I went through monthly reports, looked at my calendar for the prior year, and even reviewed my Notes Log that I maintain in a journal/notebook.

When I completed this exercise, I was shocked!

We had achieved so much more than I realized we had, , , significantly more. I remembered most of the recent projects and accomplishments but had forgotten about many that had taken place six or more months ago.

This made me think, “If I (the manager) don’t fully realize or remember how much we accomplished, it is fairly certain the staff doesn’t either, , , and guess what, our clients definitely won’t realize it.”

It is the manager’s job to help insure clients and staff know how much your team is getting accomplished. If you don’t make this a priority I can guarantee they won’t know and your IT organization will be “under-appreciated”.

It was at this point I decided to track our accomplishments every year so I could keep our clients and staff “in the loop” about how much we get done and the value IT contributes to our company.

A tool I developed tracks our IT achievements for the year.

Annual IT Accomplishments template

CLICK HERE to download the template.

This report will help you remember key contributors to the success of your organization and which clients you help by project. The Key Benefits column is great to track the value your IT organization contributes.

Update this report at the end of each month with that month’s achievements and at year-end you will have what you need with zero effort to collect it.

Your employees need recognition, and this simple template will help you collect some of the best recognition material available to you – their achievements.

One last thing, , , the report will help you track IT achievements, but it won’t do you any good unless you make a commitment to communicate the content with clients and IT employees, , , and don’t forget your senior management team. Managers and employees of your company need to know what IT is accomplishing.

Share the information and watch the appreciation level for your IT organization go up.