Putting a face on IT

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 canstockphoto20456258on. 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.

5 thoughts on “Putting a face on IT

  1. Jim Yukech on said:

    I agree that it’s extremely important to connect IT to customer service and to make them a part of that extended care team. A good way to do that, in addition to the ways that you mention, is by incorporating “success metrics” into each IT staff members performance appraisal. Each IT staff member should have improvement of a couple of high level customer service metrics as part of their PA objectives. This keeps customer service “top of mind” and aligns financial incentives with the top priorities of IT staff.

    Just a thought…

  2. Jennifer DeFrancesco on said:

    Sue, thank you for the kind words and acknowledgement of the value of Change Management. I’m fortunate to lead an incredibly customer-focused team and that the organization values change management. I have to give much credit to my leader and mentor, Liz Novak, for her vision back in 2002 when she hired me and we started this journey. You are right, communication and customer focus are key.

  3. Gina Vincent on said:


    Thank you for finding time to send out your blogs. As President and Ceo Of MCPc Imaging and Printing, UH’s partner for managing your print environment, this helps me provide focus to the team of individuals that support University Hospital. It helps me to keep them focused on your vision, what important to you have more importantly what you are trying to achieve. Our Vision “Providing Exceptional Client Experiences” not only revolves around our clients but our “Internal Clients” (Staff members). We encourage WOW recognitions amongst the team, I love your “GEM” Award recognition!

    • Sue Schade on said:

      Gina, thanks for the feedback. Know my blog serves various purposes depending on the reader. WOW and GEM — great acronyms for recognition awards!

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