Before we get started, I’m in no way pretending to be a communications professional. These are just my experiences and learnings down the road.
Let’s face it, and we all know this. In general, we in IT are not great in end-user communication and expectation management. We live and breathe technology, and somewhere we sometimes forget that someone is supposed to use our fancy-best-of-breed-solution.
Okay, a bit over generalizing but if you have worked in IT, I think you might recognize this. We often forget about the end-user and we fail to tell them about all the wonderful things we do, but also what they can expect from us.
I will try to provide you with a high-level view, to help YOU take the decisions what to do and why, not really the HOW in this post.
Now that we have managed the expectations, let’s get into this.
Since you are reading this, I assume that you are in some way involved in the end-user service area and are either providing or helping to provide services to end users. You are operating in the layer where most users interact.
But what have you promised your end users? What are they buying from you? Do they know or are they just “paying the bill”? This is something that varies between organizations, depending on size, location, culture, and previous structures of the IT department.
But what are you selling to your end users? Are they just buy “a computer” or are there more services attached like deskside support and a helpdesk?
There are a lot of questions related to this, and hence one of the themes for this post.
What do your users THINK that they are buying and what are you delivering?
This is the most important part which is also the trickiest one. To set an expectation with your users (which are your customers) on what they will receive buying the service from you. It might be that you are the only one that are allowed to provide this service within you organization, or that you are the preferred one but they could operate it them self or turn to a third party to provide this.
None the less, making it clear for the end users on what to expect from your service is increasingly important. Especially since enabling new services is three clicks and a credit card away…
What value are you adding to the equation?
Enter end-user communications. This is a hard area and there is a reason that organizations hire communications professionals. They might not know all about fancy IT stuff (that’s not why they were hired), but you can make sure that they know all about getting your message out there!
From my experience by working in the end-user area, this is something that is super important but also, very often forgotten about. We tend to update something we consider as small, but it might have huge end-user impact. If we don’t successfully inform our users about this, we might cause unnecessary frustrations. Even though we need to adopt an Evergreen mindset, we need to make sure that our users know what’s going on. Keep them in the loop.
I’m no communications expert, but I’ve seen and delivered the outcome from projects where there were a lot of end-user communications and less communication. What do you think where the most successful, in the aspect of user adoption?
Yes, the projects where extensive end-user communications were performed.
However, you always need to adopt amount/channels/information to whomever is the target for the change. Some information might only be needed by your support people, other information might be of more value to your end-users.
The go-do / take away
So, what is the takeaway from this?
Try to define your services for your end-users possible and communicate these. A PDF hidden away on a SharePoint site will never be found, putting it on some sort of intranet site might be a better idea to clearly state to your end-users what they can expect by buying the service from you and what value you add to them.
This is of course something that varies between businesses, but defining services is a crucial step to set the expectations right with your users.
I would also really encourage you to reach out to your communications professionals within your business for advice and work together with them. They can really help you get you message out there, making sure that your end-users (customers) understand why things are happening and changing in the way they are. But don’t expect them to do your work for you. You will still need to put in the effort but getting their advice and/or input might change the success rate of your project.