By Don Crawley
"What are the characteristics of the people who provide great customer service?” I asked my audience of system engineers, network managers, coders, DBAs, and desktop support technicians. The answers from this group were similar to every other group of IT pros: Competence, good listening skills, and patience are all frequent responses, but two responses are universal. These two characteristics are mentioned by every group, in every survey: compassion and empathy. Even competence is not mentioned as often as compassion and empathy. (To be fair, most of us assume that people in a technical job will be sufficiently competent with the technology to do that job.)
Compassion is caring about our fellow humans and empathy is trying to put ourselves in another’s position, to see the world as they see it. Compassion and empathy are principles 2 and 3 of the 5 Principles of IT Customer Service, and when they’re combined with deep technical competence, great customer service follows naturally.