As IT leaders, we get used to hearing complaints about IT: we are not being responsive enough; our systems are unstable; too many clicks in the applications; not knowing who to call. The list goes on and on. There are times when you think you can’t possibly please everyone. It’s may be why so many people have sat across my desk and said they’d never want my job. But I have learned that proactive, honest communication with your users is critically important.
One step is to survey your users about their issues and their satisfaction with your solutions and services. This can be an extensive survey about a particular system or of one group of users. Or it can be a simple, few question survey after calls to the service desk. Regardless of the type of survey, make sure to let your customers know you’ve heard them. Publish the results and action steps to address problems. No matter how negative some of the results may be, you have to be transparent. And re-survey at the right interval to check if you have moved the dial.
Another step is to make the IT leadership team very visible and accessible. Provide easy to find information on who is responsible for what and how to contact them. Get out to the right leadership meetings and forums to provide IT updates; solicit feedback and concerns. Show you care and are listening. This will go a long way in building more positive relationships and satisfied internal customers.
I’ve heard leaders in various organizations say they don’t know what goes on in IT or what everyone is working on – they see IT as a ‘black box’. Transparency is critical. Publish information on the major priority projects so everyone knows your focus. Let users know of major changes coming and the impact on them well in advance.
At University Hospitals, we are fortunate to have a strong Change Management and Training team within IT led by Jennifer DeFrancesco. She has many years of experience working in this area and a great sense of the organization and its culture. She has dedicated communications staff. She has a good sense of what kind of communications are needed and when. For a new and interim CIO, she has provided valuable guidance to me these past few months.
As teams throughout University Hospitals implement visual management boards, they are encouraged to include metrics on customer satisfaction. In IT we know this metric is important and are still developing it. We rolled out our visual management board this week. Measuring customer satisfaction is one of the items we’ll need to evolve.
Customer service is one of my core principles and values. I tell my team that while we don’t touch patients directly, we are all part of the extended care team; clinicians and caregivers rely on the systems we provide and support to care for patients in a safe manner. Excellent customer service in all our interactions is critical.
In the “people” section of our visual management board, we highlight staff who have received a UH GEM Award (GEM = Going the Extra Mile). These staff know what good customer service means and they show our users the positive face of IT.