Storage Customer Support in the Age of Social Media
After spending more than 20 years in the IT support community, customer service is my passion and my expertise. Over the last several years, technology has changed the way we communicate, and, in return, the way we support technology must change. In my first blog for Starboard Storage I take a look at the changing face of the It customer base and how that is impacting support practices.
Act, and you shall have dinner; wait, and you shall be dinner.
-Klingon proverb, Star Trek
No organization has been more impacted by the data explosion than IT. Whether a company employs 50 or 50,000, IT teams of the past five years have had to adapt and evolve at a breathtaking pace. By design or distraction, enterprise IT has been challenged by its user base to deal with cloud computing, big data, cloud, iPhones, tablets, and socialization; bring your own device, the consumerization of IT is a reality. And while each and every one of these technologies has independently imposed significant change management within the IT organization, in combination their impact has been epic. Ignoring them was no more a choice than was extinction. Act, or be dinner. These technologies forced the kick-off of the core transformation of businesses globally: how an organization functions, how it’s people interact with each other and with their customers, how they achieve innovation and competitive advantage, fast and then faster.
Whether by choice or demand, IT organizations around the world are reconsidering all they do and are – their mission, their purpose, their structure, workflows, and deliverables. None of them get to stop being the technology leaders, or integrating automation into the business, or driving operational efficiency. They must do all of these things and move from a practice of alignment directives to strategic integration of the technologies with the business, and become adaptive, creative, nimble, solution oriented, and business savvy and enable innovation, competitive advantage, and speed to market.
At the same time, as expert and senior IT leaders took on their new customer and operational realities, the “Gen Y” infiltration of their IT organizations was gaining momentum. Now representing 21% of IT staffing, “Gen Y” employees, born between the years of 1980 and 2000 and often referred to as “Digital Natives,” are the first generation to have grown up with technology. They are not just more comfortable with technology than previous generations – their lives are keenly integrated with and dependent upon technology. They are highly educated, social, confident, and connected. 93% of the “Gen Y” generation are online, 75% have created a profile on a social networking site, and none pick up the phone to call their friends or parents – they text. Or tweet. They thrive on immediate gratification and real-time feedback. From learning to entertainment, in all forms of communication, including social and professional networking, “Gen Y” employees are the reason for the changing demands and transformation of IT, and now entering the IT workforce, they are contributors to the solution as well. Hakuna matata!!
We in the Customer Support world must be passionately vigilant in our mission to ensure the successful transformation of our IT partners and customers. Traditional support methodologies alone will not enable the customer-centric, solution-focused IT movement. We must embrace and deploy support to our customers predictively, proactively, and personally. Personally – how they want it, when they want it. That could mean via the classic route of one-to-one contact on-site, or via phone. It might mean engagement via email, or a web portal. Whichever one-to-one path is chosen, we must provide support swiftly and with a depth of expertise that instills confidence in our solutions and commitment to our customer.
However, like our IT customers and partners, we must also recognize that we have a new sense of “personal experience” in our customer base, as well as an unprecedented sense of urgency and accountability. While our IT customers are learning to master their brave new world, a world which includes the traditional as well as the “Gen Y” influence externally AND internally, we in Customer Support must execute on predictive, proactive, and personal support for their solutions and technology – whatever “personal” might mean to them in any given time or circumstance:
- Knowledge base, searchable anytime from anywhere
- User communities, sharing ideas, practices, and possibilities
- Education, on-line real-time , in multi-user forums, via white papers, videos, classroom
- Phone home automation, health checks, guided resolution
- Phone, email, web portal
- Remote and on-board troubleshooting, monitoring
Now is the time to ensure we are “acting” on behalf of our customers, ensuring THEIR success today and tomorrow. In doing so, we will change the world together … and dinner will be a shared celebration, not a threat!
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