They’re A Partner NOT a Customer

How many times have you been in a meeting and they were talking about the customer? What about the times you were talking with some other technicians in your department and mentioned a customers behavior? Oh and my favorite when someone calls in and asks for something to be completed on the spot, when denied, they rant about customer service and how the customer is always right.

We’ve all been in each instance, one of them may bug you more than another, the fact remains, however, that you’ve been separated from your own entity. The HelpDesk has been tossed aside as a servant or someone who at their beck and call because you are there for them and you must act as such. You’re not really apart of any real big decisions and when there is a project coming down the pipeline, sometimes you’re the last to hear about it, only to come in with what everyone else thinks is a curveball because IT hates change. In reality, you’re trying to secure your network from some threat you know exits in their genius idea.

It’s disheartening when any of these happen. Everyone employed in your company wants three things: to be happy, make money (for them and the company) and to hopefully retire someday. A simple shift in mindset not just by THEM but by YOU as well will change how all the scenarios above start and end.

There is no YOU and THEM

First off, it’s time to eliminate the YOU and THEM from any part of your vocabulary and thought. Removing yourself from the business entity causes the company to not only see your department as an outsider but you begin to treat them as they are intruding in your space, your cyberspace even. Here are three HUGE issues that arise when you are separated from your business entity:

“Success is best when it’s shared.”

Howard Schultz

Projects are slow, if you’re involved at all

How excellent does it feel when you are sitting at your desk or workbench working on tickets and you get a phone call. On the other line is clearly on speakerphone, he says something like “we’re meeting about software X and implementing the hardware x. Anyhow, we just purchased it and want to know if it’s going to work with our POS”. You instantly get pissed off! As your blood is boiling as you tell them that you would need some more information. They say they will e-mail you the information and you hang up the phone.

I cannot tell you how many times I have answered that same phone call. What ends up happening is later there are a few more meetings only to find out that the software purchased isn’t going to work and we cannot get our money back. There are plenty of issues in this scenario that anyone involved should be concerned. If there was a proper relationship, communication and trust between you and your partners this should not happen.

Building project processes and relationships will take a while to implement but they are well worth it. The key to building these are ensuring everyone in your organization are on the same page and communicating the expectations of your partners. Not only your expectations but what they should expect from you. The formal side of this would be to build a Service Level Agreement (SLA).

Process changes take longer or are ignored

There’s no motivation for CUSTOMERS to follow your processes or listen to anything you have to say. Think about it, the only motivation they have to follow your labyrinth of processes is to get their tickets worked on or projects completed. That’s a hefty motivation but how well does that work for long-term projects or last minute needs? And don’t get started on trying to change the processes you currently have in place.

Communication SUCKS!

Working through layers of notifications for a planned outage or project is pretty rough when it comes to a lack of a partnership. Instead of planning WITH your partners most of us were used to TELLING our customers what was going to happen. How well did you feel in the scenario earlier when your CUSTOMER was TELLING you that they were already close to completion on a project you should have been involved with months ago?

Start A Partnership

At some point when you were completing a business transaction whether it was at a coffee shop or buying a car if the saleswoman knew you personally, how did she treat you? How is that relationship better and the trust of the transaction different knowing the other person knows you and is your partner in the deal?

As humans that enjoy relationships with others. Even if you believe you’re an introvert, you still have relationships you cherish. Think of existing relationships you currently have with people in your business, family, or neighborhood. These weren’t always started quickly, they were slowly built structures of trust and love. There are a plethora (I just wanted to use that word so badly) of ways you can accomplish this but here are a few that I have used and they have worked for me.

“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”

Henry Ford

Explain what you are doing

There’s nothing worse than someone trying to shift the mindset of a group of people without explaining their intent. All too often in the professional world, we are expected to step on others and push them around to get what we desire. Right? That’s what it shows in the movies. That’s what I see when I hear about a large business partnership splitting up. So why then would you expect someone to just go along with being your partner and shifting the mindset of everyone not just in your department but in the entire company?

It sounds so juvenile and borderline weird but have a meeting and explain your intentions. Before you send that meeting request in Outlook think of a few things:

  • Don’t be rude, this isn’t time to air out dirty laundry or attack someone
  • This is the base of a relationship, no different than a process it needs to be strong so talk with confidence and accept feedback.
  • Remember, as a partner, they will benefit from the shift as well, explain that also, not just how it’s going to change in your department.

Be relentless

This is no different than any other aspect of life when you want something bad enough you and the universe will do everything possible to make sure you have it. Yes, I added a bit of The Alchemist in there, but it’s hard to deny something when it’s true.

So be persistent, push everything you have into creating and building internal and external relationships.

Patience is key

You can have meetings, explain your idea, shift your own mindset and even change a couple of others in the process. To get an entire company, division or building of people to change theirs will take some time. Remember, you have been festering on this issue for a long time, they haven’t. In fact, some might be in pure denial that this problem even exists. All too often we have these great ideas and changes to processes or relationships that just take time. Use this time to build and show those that have not shifted yet that you are in this for the long haul and want to be partners with them.

Start Now!

What’s great about changing your mindset and how your relationships affect your production, it costs nothing. All this will cost is some hard work, introspection, and good old fashion teamwork. Although steps in the HelpDesk wheel are important, having good relationships with your partners is one of the most important. The key here is you are partners in the overall goal, your companies mission statement.

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