IT is not Customer Service
I recently had an IT revelation. I’m not sure why it took me so long, but I suddenly realized that many (though not all) people treat their corporate IT group in the same way they treat a customer service rep on the phone. How so? Well, many people call customer service when they are upset and yell at the reps. After all they are nameless/faceless peons who represent the evil company that has done them wrong! So the reps are not given any respect and generally treated about as shitty gets in the “civilized” world. I find that IT ends up getting much the same treatment.
Of course, this is all broad generalization. Not every person treats every customer service rep like crap. Not everyone in a business treats their IT guy(s) like trash. As a company’s size grows, it is easy for IT to become just as faceless as phone-based customer service, but I’ve found that even at small shops — this can be true. A lot of maltreatment of IT comes from the fact that people tend to only care about what is important to them. Who cares that the IT guy is busy when my “very important” project is due? A lot of maltreatment can come from “IT History” too. If IT used to be overworked, hard to work with, had difficult people, or was incompetent — people remember this for a very long time. A fair amount of IT maltreatment also comes from IT’s treatment of the “customers”. IT people come to resent being treated like a “dumb customer service rep” (not to say that they are actually dumb, I have friends who have worked or work in customer service, all decent and smart people) and treat their “customers” just as poorly.
What it really boils down to is that IT, like Customer Service, tends to be a lot of hard work and hard “customer” interactions. Customer Service reps are trained to be nice and polite while IT people are trained to be able to fix a server, read slashdot, and do a handstand with one hand tied behind their back at the same time.
Maybe all we need to do is just offer each other a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T (just a little bit).