Viewing Your Client Through a Different Lens - Part 2

By Chris Powell

In my previous essay I shared some perspectives about our customers from a relational standpoint. I'm wagering most professional techs never received any empathy training at any time during their career. Doesn't matter if it is new employee onboarding or the annual company retreat, a business is overlooking a valuable opportunity to enhance their IT department. Investing in soft skills can improve the reputation of the IT department and might actually improve the technologist's enjoyment of their work.

The Personal Technologist treats a client:

  • Like a person with feelings
  • Like a person who is contending with a lot of stress in their life outside of technology
  • Like a person who may not have been treated with kindness and dignity in previous tech support interactions with your peers.

There is still more to learn about our customers and how we can support them effectively:

The client is not on their computer 40 hours a week

Most clients begrudgingly use the technology the workplace requires them to use. As a result, most only want to know the minimum amount needed to complete their required tasks on their computer. This also means they don't want to know all the in-depth nuances you have learned about a software application. They just want the problem to go away.

The Personal Technologist chooses to learn all the ins and outs of the software. And when issues arise, they explain the situation to the client in ways that are easy to learn and NOT condescending or admonishing.

The client wants to be acknowledged

In many cases, "management policy" dictates how a customer will be handled when contacting tech support. I'm wagering that most decision-makers have received the frustrating, callous, and detached "your call is important to us...this call may be monitored for quality assurance" robotic recording in their own experience of obtaining tech support. Impersonal treatment begets impersonal treatment.

The Personal Technologist faces a tough challenge... they must be acknowledging their client as a person and communicate to the client that their tech issue matters without sounding like a scripted automaton.

Your client has a unique tech setup

Breaking news: the way you have your computer set up is different than your clients, therefore the steps to resolve an issue which works on your computer will not work for them. You may have your desktop computer set up exactly to your specifications for optimal efficiency. Your client may not be as organized as you. They may be running Windows 10/11, macOS Mavericks/Yosemite/El Capitan/Sierra/High Sierra/Mojave/Catalina/Big Sur/Monterey/Ventura, ChromeOS, and possible Linux operating systems. Their software locations may be in the Windows Start menu, on a desktop shortcut, or on the taskbar. Their software locations might be in their Mac dock, on their desktop, or inside their Finder accessed through a series of clicks.

The Personal Technologist asks the client to share more information about their technology landscape. Are they on a desktop or a laptop? Is it a Windows computer, a Mac computer, or a Chromebook? Is their web browser Firefox, Edge, Chrome, Safari, Brave, or (heaven forbid) Internet Explorer?

The more information the client shares, the more the client senses you taking ownership of their issue, and the easier it will be for you to provide a customized resolution to their issue based on what they're running.

Your client doesn't understand techie humor

Professional techs are immersed in the ocean of online memes, obscure insider aphorisms, and other humorous headlines from the daily zeitgeist. It's how we cope with the daily avalanche of requests for computer help. A 21st-century cigarette break, if you will. Most of our clients do not understand nerdspeak. When tech support makes a geeky joke, it is almost guaranteed that the client will not get it.

The Personal Technologist knows their audience before unloading a witticism, meme, joke, humor, analogy or idiom. They are fully aware that a "harmless joke" actually can offend a client's identity, their ethnicity, their upbringing, or other aspects about their personal and professional lives.

There is one more way the Professional Technologist can view their clients in a more effective way. It's a big one. I'll be sharing it in Part 3 coming soon.