The Role of Internal Service within the Support Team

Article by Donna Earl

Recently as the Help Desk Coach I was summoned by a company to work with their support desk. This group had a reputation with internal customers for being difficult to work with, inconsistent and sometimes unresponsive. Follow up was nil.

As I dug deeper into the problem, reviewing customer surveys and interviewing management, a theme emerged: this group didn’t treat customers well, and they didn’t treat each other well. In fact during the group session the team admitted they treated each other poorly, were prone to emotional outbursts, and created their own toxic work environment. Of course initially they tried to blame everyone else for their poor reputation, and blamed everyone else for showing them no respect.

Before we ventured into any skills training, or my boot camp on “Emotional Intelligence”, my first task was to help them realize they were their own worst enemies, and to not expect others to treat them any better than they treated each other. The mood of the group changed, and they admitted they were hard on themselves and hard on each other. Within a day they re-engineered their group dynamic into a more supportive, less hostile mode of interacting.

The final task was learning new customer support skills, and learning how to prioritize incoming support issues and deal effectively with customers. While they had been initially skeptical that this information would be of value, in the end they were eager learners, quickly applying new call handling techniques and dealing more effectively with conflicting priorities and difficult customers. Had they not realized they were their own most difficult customers, they wouldn’t have learned new skills.

Does your support team have healthy or hurtful team dynamics? It can make a huge difference in their ability to support customers effectively, and promote a reputation for great customer support and service.

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