Total Service FAILURE

I had an experience today that I can’t seem to stop thinking about.  I was consulting with a client that has been using some technology contractors to take care of both their infrastructure and desktop support.  Basically these contractors are responsible for ALL of this business’ technology needs.  There were more than one and they worked exclusively for this one business, meaning they spent ALL of their time with this one client.  It may seem to you like I’m belaboring the obvious, but I just want you to understand what the lay of the land is in this situation. 

After listening for a half hour or so to a few of the full time employees of this company relate their perceptions of how they were being served, I more or less went through the stages of grief right there.  Denial – surely the situation could not be that bad, Pain – listening to this is causing me physical pain, Anger – this is just NOT RIGHT, Depression – it’s probably even worse than they are saying, Reconstruction/Hope – we can work through this and look like heroes with even a minimal amount of effort.

What it boiled down to was that these guys couldn’t be bothered to document anything, think proactively, or even be COURTEOUS to their users.  AT ONE CLIENT!!  The management feels like these guys have a gun to their head (in a way they do) and they’re riding that pony til it drops.  I’m still in awe.

I won’t subject you further to the sordid details, but I would like to make a few statements to anyone out there who works in the IT industry (technology consultants should pay especially close attention).

  1. If you are not listening to your customer at LEAST as much as you talk, YOU FAIL!
  2. If you are working on a network that costs more than your house yet has less documentation than something you’d buy at the Cracker Barrel gift shop, YOU FAIL!
  3. If Your customers EVER say (or even think) something like “We’d rather put up with the issue than deal with IT to try and fix it”, YOU FAIL!
    I’ve been pondering the whole “service” thing for a long time now.  At the first part of my career, I always thought that the MOST important thing was the technology.  More knowledge, more technical ability will make me more valuable to my company and my customers.  I imagine that many who work in my industry think this way.  The more I work, however, the more I realize that no one cares how much you know if they think you are a jackass.  You have a severely limited ability to contribute to the organization if you can’t communicate with them.

I am not trying to be inflammatory, but I have come to know that the following statement is true:

People skills are every bit as important in today’s technology industry as technical skills"

They may even be MORE important than tech skills.  Over and over again as I work in technology I have seen less skilled technicians make more money, be promoted sooner, and generally be more successful than their more skilled counterparts on the basis of their communication skills, business awareness and plain old fashioned courtesy.


More to follow on this topic.