The importance of human contact in IT: lessons learned by Incident Manager Maarten

Incident Manager Maarten takes you on a journey through his career, starting as a Service Desk Employee and evolving into a leader in our company.

My role as Incident Manager

As Incident Manager, I am responsible for quality control and handling incidents related to mobile telephony within a specific customer portfolio, which is where we coordinate all the logistics regarding business mobile phones. I also handle planning; request and audit timesheets; and work on process documentation as Knowledge Manager.

I began in 2014 as a Service Desk Support Engineer, even though initially, I didn’t fully meet the technical requirements of the client. The service desk supported a diverse customer base involving various languages and operational procedures. This environment demanded flexibility, and the first year posed a challenge, but I steadily grew in confidence and strengthened my position.

I started taking on more responsibility during a period with few supervisors present. I was offered the opportunity to perform quality management, given my knowledge of expectations and processes. I accepted this role alongside my service desk tasks and began creating the necessary documentation. Eventually, I received so many additional responsibilities that I was asked to do this full-time, thus becoming Incident Manager and simultaneously serving as Knowledge Manager.”

All in all, I strongly believe with experience you can largely determine how to handle challenges yourself.”

How it all began

Due to my background as a PC enthusiast and gamer since my youth, I developed a hands-on mentality that not only helped me solve problems but also guided my choice of a career in the IT sector. I always needed structure, as I can naturally be quite unstructured. This became apparent in my first IT job; I had to force myself to be organized. Later, in the multi-client service, I learned to be flexible. It was a completely different environment from what I do now, but the experience of dealing with various processes over the years definitely helped me become what I am today.

In those early days, there was hardly any time to explain everything; we were quickly thrown in at the deep end. I remember them saying, This week, we’ll explain client A”, and two weeks later, we were expected to provide IT support to that client. It was a hectic period, mistakes were made, but that’s how I learned the ropes.

I started my career in 2007 on a help desk for individuals, not to be confused with a service desk. Here, I learned the customer-oriented approach and how crucial it is to handle telephone communication professionally. I saw myself as the face and voice of the company, and I always aimed for excellent customer service.

An important principle I’ve always borne in mind is that even when something is not your fault, it can still be your responsibility to help. It is crucial to make this distinction. I’ve even included this in my Customer-Oriented Communication course. If someone has a problem, you should try to help, even if you didn’t cause the problem.

In the role of a service desk support engineer, you are the first point of contact, and I strongly commit to this. I understand that daily tasks can become routine, but it’s important to remain flexible and approach each situation with a fresh perspective. The answer, I don’t know,” is also acceptable, but I believe there are always ways to find a solution. All in all, I believe with confidence you can largely determine how to resolve these challenges yourself.”

Sounds amazing?

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Every time a new group of employees starts at Bizztalent, I immerse them in a pool of good practices for an IT Service Desk.”

Customer-centric communication is also a social commitment

During a routine follow-up conversation with HR Manager Louise, I mentioned that I was working on a customer-centric communication’ training for our then-service desk, as we were dealing with a number of new hires and the existing training material was somewhat outdated. I updated the training material, integrating the function and operation of a modern service desk, including real hands-on examples and situations you inevitably encounter. Louise asked me if I wanted to do something similar for Bizztalent, and that’s actually how it all started.

Every time a new group of employees starts at Bizztalent, I immerse them in a pool of good practices for an IT Service Desk. Later, I incorporated the knowledge and important aspects of my experience as Knowledge Manager into the training. Correct ticket logging, clear communication, and strong know-how are not the only keys to resolving tickets because they also improve documentation, strengthen process descriptions, and meet the requirements of key performance indicators and service level agreements. In my opinion, these features are still somewhat underrated, so I like to pay extra attention to them.

In another life, I might have been a teacher; that was once a consideration. I enjoy explaining such concepts as mentioned above, not only because of their philosophical nature but because I genuinely believe they can be easily applied in a practical way. It’s not random philosophical rhetoric; there’s something essential in it. What you do, especially when interacting with someone, is make personal contact. People sometimes see it as a clinical operation, but it’s not. It’s an interaction between two people, a social commitment; even if it’s business, it’s no less human. It’s very easy to forget that because there’s often a wall of phone lines, emails, text, procedures… People may forget that there’s a human at the other end of the line. But you can influence this by making contact more agreeable.

What sets Bizztalent apart from other IT companies is their human approach. They never lose sight of that, and that’s really amazing.”

Internal engagement makes the difference.

My first year didn’t go entirely smoothly; Soheel, who guided me from start to finish, was closely involved. Although we had regular discussions about shortcomings in my performance, I managed to convince Soheel and the client that I really wanted the position and would work on improving my soft skills. The human aspect in our interactions was crucial. He would sometimes say, I’ve heard that there were some clients who weren’t supported optimally. Why was that?” I was given the space to explain my side of the story, and he would say, Okay, I understand. Do your best.” And the next month, I found that I really was making progress.

That guidance was very valuable, and I am very grateful for Soheel’s support during that time. There were challenges in my project, as everyone has in the early stages of a career. But internal engagement made the difference. What sets Bizztalent apart from other IT companies is their human approach. They never lose sight of that, and that’s really amazing. With Louise as HR manager, I must say I am very satisfied with the HR department and how they do their jobs. They have a lot of work to do, but they still take the time to call or respond to emails, and that deserves real appreciation given their heavy workload.”

The bridge to connection

I also feel connected to the human-centric approach and the training program. Although not strictly prescribed, it acts as an unconscious factor that bridges the gap and fosters a sense of connection. When you fulfill a role in any organization and only fulfill your responsibilities without any aspirations for personal growth, you could do that same job just as well in any other company. Staying in your current position out of convenience or because you are familiar with it is understandable, but is it optimal? I have my doubts. I think the reason why someone stays or is engaged in a particular role is not only about immersing themselves in it but also about the feel-good factor.

Engagement with and showing interest in you as an individual are signs that the organization cares about your well-being in the role. A satisfied consultant leads to a satisfied customer, and this results in a stable long-term collaboration.”

The future of IT

IT will undergo significant evolution in the coming decades due to the rise of AI, and this is something we need to take seriously. Currently, we still see simple chatbots answering basic questions. Some tools predict certain things based on data, such as how many questions come in daily on a specific topic and what documentation is missing. It can even predict how many calls you can expect next month on that subject. This is a great tool, but it should be used to solve problems, not replace the human aspect. I stand by that because the service desk often still has a negative connotation, especially in the private sector, and I think that’s unfair. You have control over how human you make communication.

Chatbots can evolve quickly. Think of AI apps like DALI and Mid-Journeys, which can generate images based on search terms. These AI systems are showing their ability to develop and have the potential to perform a broader range of tasks in the future. This includes processing not only visual data but also information across various fields.

Automation has implications for various sectors, including IT and service desks. While there will always be a need for technicians to carry out hands-on tasks, many other tasks will be automated: processes, issue detection, and security will evolve. We also need to be vigilant against external threats and advanced scamming techniques.

In summary, the challenges and evolution of IT revolve around automation using AI, with a focus on processes, issue detection, and security. We are heading into a time of rapid change, where jobs are shifting but not necessarily disappearing, and we need to be aware of the impact on all levels of society.”

Bizztalent doesn’t care about race, appearance or religion. That's rather rare these days, and that's why I feel so good here.- Feedback from employee survey 2021

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