Monday, September 22, 2008

Customer Service and resistance to change


At work, I manage more than half a dozen SharePoint sites and the users that have to access those sites. Over the course of the last year or so, the number of users has increased 200-300%! That's not too bad, but trying to deal with phone calls about lost and forgotten passwords was eating my lunch.

A couple weeks ago, i convinced my boss to let me look into buying software for the SharePoint sites that would let the USERS handle their password problems. Specifically, I wanted folks to be able to change their password if they didn't like the one they had (I had to make them up, so there is no telling what they are!) and/or be able to reset their password should they forget it altogether. Another 'bonus' was the ability to add new users through the web interface instead of either using a VPN to connect or being on-site physically.

BambooSolutions came through like a champ! VERY cost-effective solution that gave us exactly what we needed without giving us more than we would ever use. Now, of course, the users have to actually USE it... :-)

In addition to the password reset/change feature, John and I also decided to give a new coat of paint to the company web page. A few hours later, I received a seething message from the boss about the new colors.

At the office today, we had a discussion about the incident. Though she said she was "just kidding," her comment to me was that she obviously needed to cut our time in half since we had plenty of time to change the colors on the web page. I told her it took about 10 minutes tops. I also changed the color scheme to something in the 'light gray' range instead of the black we first changed it to.

How bad is a work environment in which the micromanagement is such that the boss has time to criticize the technology department for keeping things updated and fresh on the company web page? Heck, it's not like we even moved anything around. We changed the colors.

The nature of the web has always been and (I hope!) will always be - CHANGE! Why do you think "Web 2.0" is so prolific? Web 2.0 is all about changing, flowing content - blogs updated daily or more often, wikis updated as soon as new information arrives, social networks that ebb and flow with the waves of millions of users. Leave something static and people will stop coming.

part of the reason we implemented SharePoint to begin with was because it can pull information from various sources inside and outside of the corporate web and display that information live. Instead, our company web page is just that - a web page that never seems to change.

The argument we fight everyday is this: "Well, if we change things, people won't know how to find things!" Once upon a time, that was very true. But, web users are much more savvy than in the early days. Plus, if they have a hard time finding things, and they tell us about it, then we can - GASP - change things around in order to help them find what they need!

Prime example - One of the sites I manage is the Arkansas K-12 Distance Learning Curriculum Portal (I know, the name alone warrants carpal tunnel syndrome). We set it up, and it worked. For most users. However, we started getting word that some directors and legislators could not find what they needed. Then, word was that some of the other content was hard to find if you did not know your way around SharePoint. This past Friday, a team of us sat down and hammered out a modified navigation structure. When we were done, I was amazed at how much easier it was to get to some of the information! Why hadn't we done that to begin with? because it made sense to us before. It just makes MORE sense now that things are in a better order.

Customer Service means changing things that need to be changed. It also means adding features that makes life easier for the customer AND the people behind the scenes. And, sometimes, it means a new coat of paint on the company portal.

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