Help a sysadmin: Supporting the unsung heroes of today’s business world

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To call system administrators the unsung heroes of today’s business world wouldn’t be an exaggeration. If they’re not installing and configuring software, hardware and networks, they are helping to ensure to ensure that IT infrastructure secure and efficient. But they don’t always get the credit they deserve. That’s why Ted Kekatos, an IT guy from Chicago, created System Administrator Appreciation Day in 1997, a tongue and cheek holiday to honour this overworked, often underappreciated but yet vital part of many companies.

However, as wonderful as it would be to shower your IT guys with cakes and other gifts for the excellent work they are doing, there is so much more that businesses can do to make them feel more appreciated and take the pressure off their overstretched teams.

With an ever-evolving business landscape, the world of IT support is a lot more complicated than it used to be. Hardware and software are no longer standard issue, and the mobile workforce of today brings a plethora of new applications, systems and equipment to table - creating a much more complex environment for the IT support teams of today to navigate. It’s this new and current technology that is one top factors for pushing up support ticket volumes up in recent years. To deal with this new world of IT support, businesses will need to take a fresh look at the landscape and what can be done to make life easier for the IT team.

Handling today’s problems with today’s solutions

Instead of trying to keep pace with the steady rise in tickets using yesterday’s methods, support organisations need to get out in front of the surge, armed with the right processes and technologies that enable technicians to address issues fast so that people can get back to work.

It can be easy to get on board with new technology just because “it’s new”, but that never really works.  Before moving forward with any technology project, it’s important to develop a thorough understanding of the project goals and ultimately the kind of customer experience you want to create and then match your options to those goals.  So how do you do that?

Talk to your teams. Bring the right people together to explore technology options. Understand how things work today within your support organisation. Delve deep into what your customers need. Prepare a technology needs analysis that addresses questions like:

  • What is the business issue that’s being analysed?
  • What is the impact of that issue that justifies making a change?
  • What is the process to be automated with technology?
  • What other options to technology have been considered?

Once you’ve done all of that, it’s time to prepare a requirements document, which identifies your “must-haves” and start reaching out to potential suppliers.  During this process, gather as much information as you can about each one. Does a supplier understand your goals? Can the technology help you meet those goals? Compare the results side by side to narrow the selection for more in-depth technology demos, which will pave the way for product evaluations and ultimately implementation.

Technology for the sake of adding something new won’t deliver the results that you (or your customers) are looking for.  By following a process of strategic selection, you’re in a much better position to find the right fit for your needs and business goals. But how can businesses future proof your customer support systems to make sure that they continue to be viable going into the future?

  • Understand users’ Pain Points: Most of us can attest that there is nothing worse than having to speak to a seemingly endless stream of people, in a multitude of different departments to get your problem sorted. Every customer is a unique entity, each with their own personality, set of preferences, and history with your business – and they should be treated as such. Traditional CRM systems only hold a small subset of available customer information – making it hard for service teams to understand the customer’s full journey. Why?  Customer data is often stored in disparate systems that don’t talk to each other.  Each of these systems contain information related to interactions that have occurred in a specific channel, but the information dead ends when the customer moves to a new channel. 
  • Make the most of intelligent automation: The legacy systems that most businesses still use for their IT support were not designed to provide the seamless, personalised experiences that today’s employees and customers expect. These systems were designed to cope in an environment with episodic engagements and a far smaller variety of channels of communication to keep tabs on. However, emerging technologies like automation and artificial intelligence enable an excellent experience to be delivered with minimal effort from the IT team. For example, AI-based support tools can handle “simple” but constant requests such as password changing or updating email aliases, freeing up IT support staff to focus on tasks that actually add value to business processes and the user experience.
  • Use tools designed for IT support: Using tools for customer support that weren’t designed for the purpose, like collaboration tools, can seem like provide a quick fix but they could also present a whole host of problems of their own further down the line. As these solutions were not created with IT support in mind, they are bound to have some shortcomings. It might sound like an obvious statement but IT support should be provided using IT support tools, with features that will make it easier to provide the excellent experience users expect. Building your support strategy on the wrong foundation can be as detrimental as not having one at all.

As the challenge of providing excellent IT support becomes ever more demanding, it is only fair that you give your IT team the best chance to do their job well. Whether this means investing in solutions that allow you to understand users’ pain points, using tools designed specifically for IT support or using intelligent automation, the best way to show appreciation for the IT team is to support them as they support everyone else. Cakes and picnics are always welcome as well.

Peter Zeinoun, Director, Support Solutions, LogMeIn
Image Credit: Ra2Studio / Shutterstock