IT professionals and end users. Cui Bono?

January 9, 2015 - 43 Comments

As a Senior Network Engineer I’ve seen many end-user issues that look like big problems but are actually very simple. The difficulty lies in a lack of understanding between end users and IT teams who support them. In this article, I want to give some advice to improve communications and relationships between these two groups.

Maher Abdelshkour article image

End users

Here are tips to help you get the best tech support possible and make the process is less painful going forward.

1. Be honest about the importance of your issue. A well-run IT department operates exactly like a well-run ER.

  • We receive the issues
  • We triage the issues to identify critical ones and give them priority of what to work on first. We then serve the rest of issues according to the order they arrive

This is how any ticket system operates, without exception. The critical issues in IT are:

  • System outages
  • An issue that costs the customer money
  • Problems that completely prevent a worker from doing his/her job

Before contacting the IT department, please make sure to identify your issue as critical or not critical, and if there is a queue please understand that critical issues must be dealt with first. Your patience and flexibility goes a long way.

2. Keep us updated and responsible. We want to provide the best service possible. If our solution does not meet your needs, let us know and hold us accountable. We love to learn about your needs and your business so we can serve you better.

3. Be our eyes. Do not hesitate to contact IT support to report a problem. Your early input could play a key role in preventing an issue from becoming critical. You don’t need to wait for your management team to report the problem. Send it to us directly.

4. Closed tickets can be reopened. When we close a ticket, it doesn’t mean we can’t work on an issue again. If your problem isn’t resolved, feel free to tell us and be as specific as possible so we can understand your business needs. We will dig deeper and make sure to solve it the way that satisfies you.

If you’ve noticed, there is a a common factor between all of the above four points, it’s COMMUNICATION . It’s the single most important thing in any business relationship, and IT is no different. Despite the reputation of our industry, we want to know more. We thrive on knowledge, and knowing you and your business will help us be better at ours. If your IT provider doesn’t value that knowledge and communication, then it’s time to find a new one.

IT Professionals

The most important message for the IT professional is that the end user is not someone we should cope with, but someone we should partner with. In researching this article, I found very few people talking about the ego and superiority complex in IT and how to deal with it. Here, I’ve decided to give some advice to my fellow IT professionals and ask them to consider the following:

1.  It’s good for you to take pride in your successes, but having too big an ego can be extremely detrimental to your career. If your actions are motivated by self-importance, then you’re doomed to fail. You might not fail right away, but ego is eventually going to catch up to you and damage your career in ways you can’t heal.

2. Listen carefully and try to put yourself in their shoes. Their problems may seem so easy to us and we’ll never imagine ourselves struggling with the same problems our users do. We’re high-level IT professionals and this is innate for us, but our extensive knowledge can actually be a BIG barrier to our clients. Imagine yourself being given responsibility for landing a hijacked plane, with no prior instructions. Visualizing that complete lack of knowledge helps with empathy.

3. Keep cool and take a walk. You’re not in a competition. Don’t be stressed and angry or you’ll tend to make poor decisions. If you start to feel your emotions welling up, take a walk. This way, you’ll be able to calm down and think of the best way to deal with the situation.

4. Always remember, the clients have given you their trust. Don’t break this trust relationship. No matter how troublesome or hard they may be, they’re giving you their trust. If you’ve asked them for access to their sensitive data, they will grant you access even if they don’t like it, but they trust you and will accept it.

5. Whether you like it or not, your job requires customer service. Don’t look at yourself as just a problem solvers. Serving the customer’s needs is as important as resolving the problems.

6. Being an IT professional doesn’t mean you’re more intelligent, smarter or have a higher IQ than the customers. Listen to their point of views carefully. Sometimes they have better solutions, and if not, listen and correct them but don’t deal with them from your ivory tower. “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is STUPID”.. Albert Einstein

7. Interact with your team. This is very critical and important for all IT professionals, especially consultants and solution providers. You can’t see the problem and make decisions on how to fix it without interacting with your team. Educating them and learning from them will prevent a lot of trouble and will be one of the most rewarding parts of being in IT.

The relationship between IT and end users is most effective when both sides work together and make compromises. Now my question is, if both sides have read this article and tried to follow their points, Cui bono? (Who benefits?).

Your feedback is welcomed.

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  1. Great tips, thank you Maher.

  2. 4. Always remember, the clients have given you their trust

    yes, without customer / client trust we cannot do anything

    thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. love the tips… keep sharing

  4. This helps a lot Maher. It’s very informative. I love your articles.

    Thanks for sharing

    K. Davis

  5. Cui bono?
    The answer is: The IT, End users and business owner.

    As always, you are the best. Thank you for sharing this Maher.


  6. Interesting article, thanks for sharing it with us!! 🙂

    • Thanks to Cisco, Avios for giving us this opportunity to share our knowledge with wonderful people like you!!

  7. Nice article, I found it informative 🙂

  8. Really nice article Maher. You have made some common and difficult problems seem quite simple to resolve. I’m sure this has helped a lot for those facing these dilemmas within the industry.

  9. It was amazing article it show the right way to deal with our issue and good advice how to communication between it team and users and the best thing it was simple and easy to everyone to understanding.

  10. “Collaboration” and “team”, are the terms that contains the essence of this great article.
    I would add a point for the end user cathegory. It refer the ability to consider that the problem currently that affecting the user, is urgent, but may not be the only one.
    A IT Professional can work under pressure and under stress, can have (as often happens) more problems to manage at the same time, but put pressure it not helps to solve the problems more quickly. Then the end users would have the patience and be confident that the IT Professional will do the best effort to solve his problems. Sure, this result also would derive from the relationship previously established between the technician and the users groups.
    Anyhow, if the technician is Maher, the users may do sweet dreams!

    • That’s a good point, Luigi. But the IT professional should be getting used to work under pressure, that’s his work 🙂

  11. Dear Mr. Maher,

    It was an impressive article. You posted something realy useful and informative.

    Very important and essential principles and points had been well-identified in this article in a very simple and clear manner. You successfully specified the relation between IT professionals and the end users.

    Every little bit in this article helps make the IT professional a well-rounded that can easily communicate with both the end users and the team work colleges.

    Thanks I really liked it and enjoyed reading it.

    Dr.Loubana Elatasi
    Edinburgh- Scotland/ UK

  12. Great advices, thank you Maher 🙂

  13. It’s so helpful, thank you Maher, I wish that IT Professionals will take it out.

  14. As always very good and well understood information.I hope this helped everyone even though i have no doubts it did!:) Waiting forward for the upcoming articles as they are always useful

  15. Je viens de lire votre article je le trouve intéressant et il répond a ma demande. Je vais suivre vos conseils et les mettre en application. Je vous tiens au courant. Merci monsieur Maher.

  16. Cui Bono!
    I can understand English but I can’t express well. Por eso voy a expresarme y escribir en español, me parece un artículo muy interesante ya que el autor nos ha reflejado un punto clave que lo resumió en la relación entre el cliente y el profesional de IT. Esta relación que parece fácil pero conflictiva a veces a la hora de resolver un problema. Estos consejos que nos aporta el autor del artículo son esenciales tanto para nosotros los usuarios como para los professionales ya que elimina los malentendidos que pueden sugerir a la hora de exponer el problema. Es un alivio para muchos saber que estamos en buenas manos, que el profesional nos escucha; entienda y nos ayuda. Este artículo es esencial desde mi punto de vista para las dos partes y sería bueno hacer más incapié en él, hacer que llege a una gran parte del público y a los profesionales. Nosotros los hispanohablantes tenemos escasez de dicha información valiosa y esperamos que haya artículos como este en español.
    Gracias CISCO y gracias Senior Maher.

    • No hay ningún problema Rosa, puedes expresarte en el idioma que deseas. En lo que se refiere a su nota ha sido registrada y usted puede seguir Cisco España para otras fuentes en español.
      Gracias y un cordial saludo!

  17. I found this article very useful and have very good and helpful information in it for both end users and IT professionals.
    One of the problems I sometimes face in my job as an IT professional That some colleagues refuse to share information that they may have because they are afraid if they do someone will be better than them and will take thier position in the company

  18. I found this article very useful and have very good and helpful information in it for both end users and IT professionals.
    One of the problems I sometimes face in my job as an IT professional
    That some colleagues refuse to share information that they may have because they are afraid if they do someone will be better than them and will take thier position in the company

    • That would be a very narrow thinking if they think like that. Sharing knowledge doesn’t mean others will be better than me nor replacing me, because there is something called EXPERIENCE.

      Thank you, Hussam for your comment!

  19. This article should be included
    in Career job search workshop.
    Thanks for sharing.

  20. iam really thanksfull to your effort , very interesting article

  21. It is interesting and amazing post really. you have summarized Books in ” Relationship between The IT and end user: in simple way.

  22. you really sum it up.I like tip
    number 3″3.Be our eyes”
    I really suffered from that point
    a lot 🙂