IBM Support

Expectations, communication and looking at things from another perspective...

Technical Blog Post


Expectations, communication and looking at things from another perspective...


Hi again!  As a Maximo support engineer / team lead for over 8 years, I'm always looking for ways to enhance the client experience through good
communication, timely response and technical knowledge.  As we all know sometimes resolving issues when it comes to software is easier said than done.  
Unfortunately sometimes there are other factors that impact the situation that we have no control over that make getting to a solution difficult and time
consuming.  That being said, there ARE many things that we CAN do to keep things going in the right direction.  These are things that can be done from both the perspective of the support engineer as well as the client.

One of the most important things to consider from the very beginning is trying to set realistic expectations.  This burden falls on both the client AND the
support engineer.  It's important for the client to convey the importance of issue and to explain what their expectations are for a solution.  From problem
to problem the expectations might be vastly different.....for example if a go live is being impacted the expectations are probably going to be different then
if the client is testing various scenarios in development environment several months before a go-live.  

Once the client has stated the situation and articulated the expectations, it's up to the support engineer to try (to the best of his or her ability) to let
the client know what can and can't be done right off the bat so that false expectations aren't created.  This can be as simple as the engineer explaining
what will be done in order to move the issue toward resolution.  After expectations are set, it's always possible that those expectations may need
to be re-evalutated after more info about the problem is found.  That's when communication comes into play.  Its so important during the problem resolution process
to keep the lines of communication open and keep the the client informed.  This responsibility falls on the engineer however it's very important for the client to remain responsive as well.

Along the lines of communication, it's of the utmost importance to make sure that both parties have a clear understanding of the issue at hand.  
From a support perspective we need to get every relevant piece of information that we can.  This includes complete system info (environment, version, database type, etc.) accurate steps to reproduce the issue, screen shots if necessary, log files if necessary, collecting data/must gather documentation and again as much communication as possible.  It's important for the engineer to listen to what the client has to say and take in as much information as he or she can retain.

A few final thoughts that you might want to consider on both side of the equation:

- Do what you say you're going to do....if you agree to call or meet or provide an update come through on that.
- If you're the support engineer, try to have empathy and "walk a mile in the client's shoes".  Understand that they may have deadlines or requirements that are critical to them.
- Don't assume anything, if you're not sure about something, ask a question.  Don't let assuming anything get in the way of the facts.
- As I said before, there are always external forces involved, think of ways to work around those forces if they're taking things in the wrong direction.
- Don't take things personally and don't react negatively because this will only help to derail /delay a solution.
- Do what you can to progress things along.  Talk to a senior team member, manager or developer for advice if you have doubts about what's happening.  This goes for the client as well as the support engineer.  Maybe a different set of eyes looking at the problem will come up with a different perspective and a solution that neither of you would have come to on your own.

These are just a few of the things that I've found over the years can really help to make for an excellent client experience and help to resolve issues faster.

Until next time.....   Thanks for reading and stay safe out there.

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