Recently I helped a system user with a technical issue over a weekend. The user was very apologetic when she called me and was basically at wits end. She needed support on a financial report writer that failed to generate any reports. As the Controller of the company, she was trying to finish the month end financial close and deliver the monthly financial reporting package to executive management that Monday. Making a long story short, we resolved the issue and she was able to deliver the reporting package on time. The high anxiety situation reminded me of a conversation I had with a colleague. My colleague works in healthcare IT. The particular conversation revolved around her hospital and how the IT department perceives the IT user community as if they were the facility’s patients. People in need of healthcare are people dependent on others as they are defenseless and very uncomfortable. Depending on the condition, a patient could be incapable of performing even the simplest of tasks.
Much like patients, system users in need of support are unable to continue their work and do not have the resources to independently solve their problem and relieve their pain. They are at a low point and are dependent on others for help. Assuming each of us were ill to the point of helpless and needed the skill and compassion of others to feel better we know what that feels like. As my colleague explained, perceiving users as patients helped the IT department stay committed to consistently provide world class support and value adding services. As a result, the IT department was well received and thought of as a partner by the hospital staff and not as a collection of disconnected technologists that you called for help when you absolutely had no choice.
What motivated me to post this article was the positive reaction I received from the Controller when I called her checking up on how she was doing and to tell her of my colleague and the perception of IT support as patient care. She was doing well and loved the story saying that it was a great approach. She once again thanked me for helping her on that weekend.
Helping people in need is a primary responsibility of IT. Taking an empathizing approach will always defuse a situation and will make users feel appreciated. In turn, the user community will be supportive of your role resulting in better alignment of IT with the business.
At times, IT can be stressful, exhausting and appear insurmountable. However, who are we to complain when the emergency ward runs 24/7…