Today’s IT department must not only be skilled in their craft, but also work regularly with both internal and external customers. Is your IT team prepared for this new trend?
IT departments are no longer inward facing, merely taking technical requests from the comfort of their offices and cubicles. The image is changing to outward-facing technical collaborators. Soft skills are becoming a necessity. These technical wizards must interact with both internal and external customers to achieve the organizational goals. A recent poll from CIO.com showed that 73 percent of CIOs felt IT has been interacting much more with external customers than they were two years ago. They also found that 37 percent plan to focus a portion of IT’s spending budget on external customer interactions.
Is your IT department filled with dynamic personnel to fit this trend? See below for tips for recruiting and keeping customer-focused IT employees who will push your company forward.
- Expand your recruiting skill sets: Not all technical types are the introverts who prefer to be tucked away at their desks. While there is still a place for that individual in your department, your hiring team should expand the skill set desired for your IT positions in order to sharpen the company’s customer focus. This could be achieved by looking for candidates with a combined focus of business and IT. While they still have the desire for solving technical problems, they will also likely have the acumen and passion for external customer interaction. Some companies will now look outside of the box, hiring non-traditional IT workers, including physicians, scientists and bioinformatics experts; as while the technical skills can be taught, the soft skills cannot.
- Career exploration: Your technical team does not merely have to be skilled in their department. Many companies are introducing rotational work opportunities for those in the technical field. Allow all your employees to take turns in more customer-facing roles so they become more comfortable in the position. It will push them to understand the business beyond the strictly technical perspective and become engaged with other departments. This could also be achieved from shadowing opportunities for technical team members with other teams so they become better rounded in the business.
- Adjust the hiring process: When seeking specific qualities in your employees, it is important to integrate those needs into the hiring process. When interviewing candidates, search for those qualities during phone and in-person interviews; demonstrate to interviewees how those who are more customer-focused will have great opportunities for growth and encourage those with the flexible, technical mindset.
- Internal perception: Just as it is important to seek new employees with the extroverted, technical mindset, it is also necessary to demonstrate this vision to internal stakeholders as well. Encourage your internal team to treat the technical team as partners, rather than technical support. Interaction and inclusion in the process will greatly impact the team and the company culture.
About the Author:
TopLine Strategies delivers the complete integration and development of sales, marketing and customer service technologies that enable corporate clientele to improve revenue streams and strengthen customer interactions. Our project management and consulting is designed to achieve timely delivery, 100 percent user adoption of the technologies we implement and deliver measurable returns on investments for our clients.