The Human Aspect of Service Level Agreement Support
What does it mean to be able to operate with confidence? How does this confidence impact your ability to perform professionally? How does it affect your relationships outside of the office? In a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, 40 percent of workers reported feeling very or extremely stressed at work, and 75 percent of employees believe that workers have more on-the-job stress than a generation ago.
Workplace stress results in $300 billion in lost productivity each year.- (Click to Tweet)
Stress levels are up for a variety of reasons. Many workers have more complex job responsibilities than a generation ago. As the dynamics of the workplace have shifted from single, specific skill sets to cross-functional teams, each employee is expected to manage their work, understand the responsibilities of their co-workers, and to recognize and report barriers in their job performance.
Increased technology also plays a significant role in stress levels. While many employees now enjoy the freedom of working from home and avoid office politics and long-commutes thanks to connected technology, many also report an inability to “turn-off” work. According to the Monthly Labor Review, telecommuting has resulted in lengthening the workday and increased pressure to respond to voicemail and email 24/7.
Moreover, what happens when the technology we rely on to support our work malfunctions? The Kensington Technology Group conducted a Workplace Survey which found that 51 percent of respondents feel that the possibility of losing documents due to computer crashes causes them “a lot” or “some” stress.
Service level agreements are meant to combat at least a portion of this stress by providing workers with reliable support when hardware and software does not perform as expected. However, more often than not, those helplines exacerbate stress instead of relieving it. Why? Incongruent metrics. In most cases, outsourced tech support providers are measured on their ability to end a call in 15 minutes or less. This means that every minute spent on the phone with you negatively impacts their performance metrics, without regard to issue resolution or reduction of stress.
The poor service provided by tech support centers is so rampant that it has become fodder for an endless array of memes and stand-up comedian jokes. We have just come to expect that any tech support experience will be painful. So the very act of utilizing the SLAs meant to reduce stress, actually increases stress.
Job stress can be defined as the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources or needs of the worker. - (Click to Tweet)
Changing the Tech Support Narrative
Industries are plagued by negative narratives when the human element is removed; when the relationships are viewed as being between Company A and Company B instead of the humans working at Company A and Company B. Taking away the human element always results in a poor human experience.
Companies that drive support based on relationship are combating the negative narrative that surrounds tech support. We understand the impact of providing meaningful, caring support and are genuinely concerned about the ripple effects a stressful experience has in the lives of our clients. Instead of focusing on reducing risk (i.e., getting the most out an engineer before upsetting a customer) we focus on uptime and supporting the tangible and intangible needs of our clients.
When a client calls in for support, there is already an established level of stress. Something has gone wrong; it is likely that he or she tried to fix it, and now has resorted to outside help. Our first priority is to understand the issue. As important as it is to relate to the emotional needs of our clients, no one wants to discuss his or her goals and feelings with the proverbial blue screen of death staring them in the face.
Our engineers are taught not to focus on ending the call, but to have the ultimate goal of making a positive difference in the lives of our clients while resolving the immediate issue. What does the caller really need? Is it important that she looks like the heroin front of the boss? Is he working to increase his team’s satisfaction? How can the skills of our engineers support the goals of our clients in unexpected ways?
In most cases, it boils down to operating with confidence. Our engineers are the best in their fields. Each has the technical skill sets required to quickly and efficiently handle almost any support situation. In addition to technical knowledge and acuity, our engineers operate in the freedom of knowing that their performance is evaluated as much on solving the problem as it is on creating a positive experience and transferring confidence to the client.
Confidence transfers occur through relationship. Our engineers actively operate with the goal of establishing a common element by listening to the needs of our clients, both tangible and intangible, and operating, with confidence, to actively meet those needs.
Acting with confidence is not about being arrogant; it is about being capable. Operating in confidence creates an atmosphere in which both parties are open and feel safe in discussing vulnerabilities. When a client calls, the last thing they want is to be made to feel inadequate by the “expert” on the other end of the phone. Transferring confidence does precisely the opposite. Our knowledge, availability, and eagerness to resolve our client’s needs allows our clients to operate with confidence in other areas of their lives by relieving a significant burden of stress.
Adjusting to [the] new technologies that have saturated today’s workplace is creating new demands on workers, and that’s causing more stress; the question is, how to make technology work in our favor without compromising our health and well-being - (Click to Tweet)
The Ripple Effect of Decreasing Stress
Sarah Jackson, chief executive of Working Families, reports that “when pressure builds in our working lives, it spills over to create pressure in our relationships.” Working Families conducted a survey that found that two-fifths of working parents report that work increased stress in their romantic relationships and for a fifth of working parents, that stress contributed to the demise of the relationship.
Stress that originates in the workplace flows into home lives and eventually comes full-circle to negatively impact professional performance. In fact, a joint report from Relate and Relationships of Scotland found that this cycle is leading to an increase in employee illnesses, poor performance, and increased resignations.
Service level agreements supported by engineers that share the goals of your employees and your business can have a long-term and far-reaching effect on the overall health of your company and your employees. When support personal display empathy and work to transfer confidence to your employees, the entire organization grows.
Topics: Service Level Agreements