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Without Customers and Clients, We Have Nothing to Do

Posted by susabelle at 12:05 PM on July 17, 2009

customerserviceOne of the more important things I do in my day job is to be sure our clients/customers get what they are expecting.  As an educational institution, our customers are faculty and staff.  They come to us with their needs, and sometimes with their wants, and we, as the IT department, need to be open to their needs and their wants, and provide the solutions they are asking for.

This doesn’t mean they always get what they want, but it does mean that we do our very best not to stand in the way of instruction and academic freedom.  We, as IT people, do not get to choose what the client wants to teach, or have available to them, in the classroom.  Our job is to support their teaching needs.

And that includes putting in software that we may personally not like or prefer.  I have had ongoing push-back from two of my technicians who do not like deploying Firefox in our classroom environments.  There is some cause for their concern, as two of our faculty/student browser-based pieces of software only work with Internet Explorer 7 and not with Firefox.  But in general, Firefox is the preferred browser for most of our students and as much as half our faculty. So the solution is to deploy both Internet Explorer and Firefox.   These two technicians do not like Firefox, and find every excuse to come back to me and tell me why they can’t put it in a particular classroom they are working on, coming up with technical reasons or blatantly personal reasons why they cannot deploy the software.

And they are entitled to their opinion.  But my customer is not me or my technicians.  My customer is the instructor or staff member who needs and/or wants this for their classroom.  We can make recommendations and suggestions, but when it comes down to brass tacks, the word “no” cannot be in our vocabulary.  The customer gets what they ask for, 99.99% of the time.  Our ability to provide what the customer wants is what guarantees our jobs aren’t outsourced to someone who will provide what the customer wants.

Without my customers’ happiness, I don’t have a job.  And I’d rather keep mine right now, all things considered.

One Comment

  1. From John Knights at 11:25 pm on July 17, 2009

    I totally agree with your attitude to the realities of commercial awareness. Correct me if I am wrong but it is not the Technician’s decision as to what gets installed. Their mandate is to install the software required by the facility and those teaching and learning there. Your statements are so on the mark I cannot think why this would not be obvious to those concerned.

    Perhaps in a situation where something really is incompatible or leaves a gaping security hole then fine, the Technicians would be justified in their protests (but would of course state this fact). Anybody who tries to paint Firefox into this picture is just going to look foolish.

    The fact that you need IE at all is down to developers with completely the wrong attitude and there are no excuses for proprietary web-standards in this day and age. I myself have to deal daily with systems just like this, though I am talking about corporate B2B the principle is just the same.

    IT Technicians in the little insular world would do well to take a peek over the fence from time to time and see what lays outside their own garden. The world is rapidly moving on from a time where Microsoft Certification was the be-all and end-all and anybody who does not embrace the possibilities of combining the old and new will eventually go the way of the dinosaurs.