With so many workers now working remotely, and with the trend likely to continue growing in the new working normal future, the pressures on IT support teams are also rising. Supporting users working from home puts their full repertoire of skills to the test - we examine what those are in more detail.
For some employees, working from home is a new experience, which means that IT support professionals have to be empathetic with internal ‘customers’. “When anything goes wrong with their PC, laptop or tablet, or if they’re having problems with their Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), people can panic. It’s imperative for us to reassure them that we will find a way to resolve their problem,” says Juneid Beekhun, IT Support engineer at Morgan Philips Group.
Communication skills cannot be overstated. IT support specialists deal with colleagues from around the world who not only present a wide array of different problems but also differing levels of technical knowledge. “As well as keeping calm, we have to always keep a smile on our face. This will come across in our tone of voice, which in itself should contain a guarantee that they’re in safe hands. The person must be made to feel comfortable and confident in our ability to find a solution,” adds Beekhun.
With requests being sent in a number of ways – typically either via email, instant messaging or phone – other key competencies are required by the IT support professional. “It doesn’t matter how you get contacted, the same principles apply – you need to prioritise the more urgent issues but without ignoring anyone. For example if I’m running a software installation, I can reply to someone else and let them know that I will revert back by a certain time. So you need to be organised and efficient with your time, but always courteous and helpful.”
The pandemic has brought challenges of its own. With a big proportion of the worker population now setting up their office at home, and with companies hiring remotely, it’s imperative that people have the tools to carry out their jobs. “We have to carefully plan for eventualities such as damaged laptops to ensure that people can continue to work with minimal disruption. Not everyone has a good Wi-Fi connection, so we also need to think about what we can do to improve the situation,” notes Beekhun.
Finally, even though the job of an IT support engineer is to answer the needs of internal stakeholders, good old fashioned customer service skills never go amiss. As Beekhun remarks, “We must always remember that we’re dealing with people. I am effectively selling my IT services, so it’s akin to running your own company. You want to make sure your customer leaves satisfied and will happily come back again.”