Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam Grant is an optimistic book with relevant and heart-warming lessons for us in the support community.
The main thesis of the book is that that generous people (whom Grant calls “givers”) can enjoy better success than selfish ones (he calls them “takers”), at least in the long run — and if we conveniently forget that most givers do finish last, as common wisdom suggests and the author conveniently sweeps under the carpet, but of course we in support are in the winning givers category.
Even with the caveats, it’s wonderful to see proof that nice people can enjoy success that stems specifically from their generosity. And good to see that harmonious work relationships improve performance of surgeons and others who depend on larger teams.
Here are some practical ideas from the book:
- Encourage personalized work. For instance, share pictures of customers as it increases the care given to each case.
- Run a reciprocity ring: get a group together for 20 minutes to allow everyone to make requests and help others fulfill theirs. Sounds all hippy-like but I can see a troubleshooting help market taking shape here…
- Start a love machine peer recognition. Yes, the book really calls it love machine but you don’t have to! I remember many years ago having a group recognition award for a large support team that was decided by public ballot, gathered wonderful nominations, and was immensely popular.
- Embrace the 5-minute favor. For instance, introduce two people who don’t know each other but have interests in common. It seems that I start most days doing something like this!
- Seek help more often. Hard for some of us to practice, but good to give others the opportunity to do that five-minute favor…
- Give in small increments, don’t “chunk”. This one was a little counter-intuitive for me, but it seems that smaller, sustained giving makes more of an impact.
According to a Forrester Research’s Forrsights Software Survey published in 2012, 26% of firms are upgrading their CRM tool sets. Are you making investments in your support tools? Please share in the comments.
(And if you’d like an assessment of how you should invest, please contact us.)
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Welcome to the June 2013 edition of the FT Word. Topics for this month
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Having just read When Doctors Don’t Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests, I’m once again reminded of how many parallels exist between technical support and medicine.
The gist of the book is to decry what the authors call the cookbook approach to medicine, which consists of following preset “pathways” to rule out potentially dangerous (but very rare) conditions in an attempt to avoid lawsuits, without vigorously seeking a diagnostic. The most relevant part of the discussion, for us in support, is the importance of the dialog with the patient/customer.
- Only 20% of patients are able to describe their symptoms without interruption. (This in an ER setting, where doctors can be, understandably, less patient than elsewhere) and the average time to interruption is a meager 12 seconds.
- As a result, the wrong “pathway” can be selected since not all symptoms are taken into account. (I also had the feeling that the pathways are not as targeted as they could be).
- Little effort is made in pursuing a differential diagnosis: what else could cause the problem, beside the current hypothesis?
- Not surprisingly, pattern recognition is weak for new doctors, better for experienced doctors. After all, medical students attend just one class of “Practice of Medicine” or POM, which encompasses both working with patients and conducting medical exams.
Can we do better in support? I think so! Here are a few ideas, adapted from the book:
1. Allow the customer to tell the whole story rather than jumping into a checklist too soon. (Checklists are very useful, but only when they apply to the situation at hand.)
2. Encourage the customer to participate in the troubleshooting process and make the differential diagnosis together
3. Apply tests rationally — only test what can help make the differential diagnosis
Do you train support engineers on how to partner with customers? Do tell us by adding a comment. (And if you do not we can help.)