4 tips for providing effective internal support

Every IT department will joke about the support they have to provide to the rest of the organization: “Is it plugged in?” Every organization of a certain size has to provide internal support, but effective internal support a tough prospect in even the most tech-savvy of companies.

There’s often no way around offering internal support for most organizations. Many companies have customized software or hardware that no-one else can support. Others need tech support to happen fast and can’t don’t want to outsource it. If your organization relies on providing technical support internally, making the support process as clear as possible can help avoid problems and speed up the process.

  1. Provide a process for minor or frequent issues. Many of the problems that an internal support team can find itself facing regularly are fairly minor or even repetitive. When the rest of the organization has appropriate tools, like checklists, they can diagnose those sorts of problems themselves, rather than immediately turning to the support team, which can let your team focus on the problems that are really crucial.
  2. Create tutorial and reference materials. A support team’s time can also be well spent heading off potential issues. If you can sink some of that time into creating tutorials and other reference materials that can help the rest of the organization avoid potential issues, it’s possible to get ahead of the game. Tools like TeamSupport put a high priority on creating “knowledge bases” — reference materials that customers and clients can refer to quickly, rather than putting in a call to support.
  3. Set expectations, especially for response times. People can get a little on edge while waiting for a solution to their problem. But if you clearly communicate when they can expect a response, if not a solution, you can at least minimize the phone calls and emails the support team receives just to check up. An internal website listing updates may be one option, while an automated email system may be another. Many companies now post statistics for the tech support they provide external customers on the web, such SiteGround’s full list of their response times, which could be an option for internal support as well.
  4. Put a face on the support team. It’s hard for people to see a support team as individuals. But by making an effort to get the support team out and about with the rest of the organization, you can at least humanize them. That can mean bringing them into meetings, changing up the office space, or using social tools.

There will always be frustrations in the support process: people always want problems fixed immediately, which isn’t necessarily possible. But the more you can smooth out the process, the fewer of those problems you’ll have to face on a regular basis.

Image courtesy Flickr user Ellecer Valencia