CIOs, IT managers, and MSP/TSP owners: Suppose your customer and end-user feedback indicates that somewhere there’s an information disconnect. So how do you solve it? If you’re like most CIOs, MSPs and IT managers, you’ll analyze written communication, evaluate your employees’ IT skills, or chalk it up to a customer’s inability to clearly articulate their technical problem. But what if none of these is the problem? What if the problem isn’t about words or skills, but rather the communication model itself? Here’s what you need to know.
The Three Communication Models
There are three main types of communication – the linear model, the interactive model, and the transactional model. All three models have value. When choosing between them, you’ll need to consider the best approach for the situation and use the correct model.
Linear Model: The linear communication model is defined as one-way communication. An example of this is when you, the IT Manager, send out a message and don’t expect a response or feedback. Linear communication is most appropriate when sharing policies or announcements, giving a large presentation, or speaking to an audience who doesn’t have the means to respond – like on a television or radio broadcast. Linear communication should be clear and direct, with little room for confusion or misinterpretation.
Transactional Model: The hallmark of the transactional model is rapid, two-way communication. Feedback is immediate and reciprocal. Both parties listen, provide feedback, and respond appropriately and effectively to one another. Most of us naturally use this communication process when interacting with an employee or other communication partner. The transactional communication model is essential for anyone in IT customer service.
Interactive Model: Interactive communication is a variation on the transactional model. It is a process of communication that expects feedback, but it’s not immediate. It’s also optional. The team you manage may choose to respond, but you may or many not hear from them. This communication model is primarily seen in electronic communication – like social media, email, and interactive marketing efforts are based on the interactive communication model.
IT and the Transactional Communication Model
Remember that IT must be customer-based. But even though you primarily look for technical knowledge in job interviews, keep in mind that every tech project has a human customer at its core, whether an employee is fulfilling a request to reset their email password or a project manager is implementing a major systems upgrade. If it doesn’t solve a human problem, then what’s the point?
No matter how big or small the task, your IT team must have solid interpersonal communication skills. They must be committed to a continuous exchange of information between themselves and their customer or coworker and not expect a one-way process in which the “expert” disseminates knowledge to the “layperson.” It’s also important for those in IT customer service to recognize that the feedback loop includes both verbal and nonverbal communication, like body language, posturing, and facial expressions.
Effective communication is only possible if IT pros adopt an attitude of service and a model of communication that facilitates it. Mastering the transactional communication model is an ongoing process.
Customer Service Training for IT Professionals
Human communication is complex. It involves synchronous communication influenced by social context, relational context, and other complicated factors. IT pros must understand the importance of meaningful, reciprocal communication in their day-to-day work. They must learn the practical skills and communication concepts necessary to do their jobs more effectively and meet the needs of their “customers” – whether entry-level individuals or large-scale corporations.
Losing customers due to poor customer service is expensive. Losing key employees due to negative experiences is also expensive. The best teams focus on excellent service to customers and care for each other. Compassionate Geek’s Online Customer Service Training for IT Professionals is here to help you develop the communication skills necessary to take your team to the next level.
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