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Internal Users being called 'Customers'

Discussion in 'The Lounge - Off Topic' started by drum_dude, Dec 18, 2005.

  1. drum_dude

    drum_dude Gigabyte Poster

    Hi all,

    Where I work the management seem to always refer to internal users as customers. When I say 'internal users' I mean those that call/visit our support centre for IT Support - these users work in a wide range of professions within the Local Council.

    I have real problem with calling them customers beacuse a) they don't 'BUY' goods or services from me, us or the dept, and b) because they - the user - know they are refered to as customers this seems to give them a 'the customer is always right' attitude and a license to be total tossers - just like I am towards Blueyonder ISP of whom supply my Internet access and cr@p email service!

    Now I know if you work in outsourcing then yes people would refer to them as customers as services are being purchased on their behalf - but to use this approach in an internal support situation is nuts!

    Has anyone else an opinion on this? I would be most interested to read them.

    Certifications: MCSA , N+, A+ ,ITIL V2, MCTS
    WIP: MCITP 2008 Ent Admin, Server Admin, Exchange 2010, Lync 2010, CCNA & VCP5
  2. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

    Well...they don't *buy* your services but you are paid to provide them with services. My guess is that management wants you to treat the internal users the same way you'd treat an external customer (not that you don't). Many end users are intimidated by IT techs and feel that they are somehow interior or (dare I say it) stupid, if they have to call for support.

    By redefining their role from end user to customer, it gives them the same feeling (when calling for help) as if they are returning a pair of pants they bought that turned out defective. They aren't "losers" (or "lusers" as BOFH might say), but just people with a customer service issue.

    I agree, this shouldn't give them a license to be any less than courtesous to you. After all...the (supposed) purpose of all this is to foster a courteous attitude from the IT tech to the end user so the door should swing both ways. Bottom line is that if they opened a dodgy e-mail attachment and infected their work PC with the latest sober variant, that's hardly your fault.
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  3. drum_dude

    drum_dude Gigabyte Poster

    Yes I see what you are saying Trip and the point you make about the reason management is doing this makes perfect sense. I just think that in practice people just take the "P" and use this 'customer' lark as a method of restoring their supiriority - by them being the customer you are now inferior to them...instead of the other way round.

    oh well...it creates jobs I suppose :)
    Certifications: MCSA , N+, A+ ,ITIL V2, MCTS
    WIP: MCITP 2008 Ent Admin, Server Admin, Exchange 2010, Lync 2010, CCNA & VCP5
  4. d-Faktor
    Honorary Member

    d-Faktor R.I.P - gone but never forgotten.

    keep in mind that in many companies the other departments actually do buy services from the it department. a part of their budget is set aside or transferred to the it department in exchange for hardware and services.

    also, the it department in many companies is (and should be) subject to the need of the business. it is the customer who commissions a certain kind of service, or a certain hardware, based on specific business needs. the it department is only supplying a set of tools, which the business needs to stay alive or to stay ahead of competitors.
    users have to make do with the tools they are provided, whether they like it or not. but once they start to actually commission certain services, be it as individuals or as a department, that automatically makes them customers.

    of course in many cases the it department also functions as an advisor to the business to help them determine which services and hardware are needed. which can be a tricky situation. many it departments make the mistake to think they are the heart of the company, as if without them the business would come to a shrieking halt. while maybe true on a technical level, it is wrong from a business point of view. the it department is only a means to an end.
  5. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

    I think Trip is right on what he says in an ideal world.

    The reality of it is that it's another management 'buzzword' and somewhere along the line a consultant said 'You know what, you could really empower your users if you referred to them as customers. And your IT guys aren't helpdesk support, that makes them sound like a table leg. They're going to be IT solution executives. We also think you should change the sign that says staff canteen to co-workers community participation area. What? No they'll work it out when they get hungry enough.'
    Certifications: MCT, MCTS, i-Net+, CIW CI, Prince2, MSP, MCSD
  6. Sparky
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    Sparky Zettabyte Poster Moderator

    Yup, I’ve heard the exact same ‘customer’ label put on internal users which I think can cause confusion. The reason I say this is there is often not a clear policy on what the IT department should support if they are in-house and the company hasn’t implemented a detailed IT policy.

    It does give the internal users the right to phone up and demand to get a problem fixed in an unrealistic timescale. I’ve worked in an environment like that and it wasn’t fun, I was fixing everything from MP3 players to Servers and was expected to get it all done without any fuss.

    I now work as a sub-contracted IT support engineer which does merit the use of labelling users as ‘customers’ as they pay for the IT support and expect a high quality service. There are clear guidelines of what technologies are supported and what the response time should be for a fix which is helpful for the day to day support issues.

    The only reason I can think to label your workmates as ‘customers’ is to make the IT department approachable from a users point of view and you wont bite their head off for locking themselves out of their Windows account for the 3rd time in the space of a week! :D
    Certifications: MSc MCSE MCSA:M MCSA:S MCITP:EA MCTS(x5) Security+ Network+ A+
    WIP: Exchange 2007\2010
  7. AJ

    AJ Administrator Administrator

    Our Internal Users are Teachers (need I say any more) and pupils. More than often the kids know more than the teachers. The kids then tell the teachers how to do something on their PC and then that PC ends up in our workshop totally boll**ed and needing a reinstall.

    They aren't customers, they're a pain in the ass.

    Bless them :x
    Certifications: MCSE, MCSA (messaging), ITIL Foundation v3
    WIP: Looking at doing ..................
  8. simongrahamuk
    Honorary Member

    simongrahamuk Hmmmmmmm?

    Lol @ AJ!

  9. Bluerinse
    Honorary Member

    Bluerinse Exabyte Poster

    If you are employed by the same company then they are co-workers or colleagues. Customers my foot :x
    Certifications: C&G Electronics - MCSA (W2K) MCSE (W2K)
  10. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

    our work do this too. however, as ITIL defines it, a customer is the people who PAY for your service (in our case, the Business Units pay the bills for IT, so they are the customer), a USER is the people who actually use the service on a day to day basis. So the individual people in our company who phone in with an issue are USERS. their business unit (or department) are the CUSTOMERS.
    Certifications: ITIL Foundation; MCTS: Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010, Administration
    WIP: None at present
  11. drum_dude

    drum_dude Gigabyte Poster

    Thanks for the responses chaps. I'm glad that i'm not the only that does not agree with the 'customer' fad....

    Certifications: MCSA , N+, A+ ,ITIL V2, MCTS
    WIP: MCITP 2008 Ent Admin, Server Admin, Exchange 2010, Lync 2010, CCNA & VCP5
  12. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

    I like to call ours 'abusers'...
    Certifications: MCT, MCTS, i-Net+, CIW CI, Prince2, MSP, MCSD
  13. Jakamoko
    Honorary Member

    Jakamoko On the move again ...

    I agree - if they pay for your services, they are customers, if you are an internal support dept, then they are (ab)users (nice one Jonny !!!)

    Buzzwords - b0ll0x !!!!
    Certifications: MCP, A+, Network+
    WIP: Clarity

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