You've surely heard the conjugation "I am firm, you are obstinate, he is pigheaded." Similarly, IT architects often seem to be saying, "I am in the loop, you are a system bottleneck, he is an error-prone manual operation."
Youve surely heard the conjugation "I am firm, you are obstinate, he is pigheaded." Similarly, IT architects often seem to be saying, "I am in the loop, you are a system bottleneck, he is an error-prone manual operation." The proper task of IT depends on which of these descriptions actually fits the situationfrom the viewpoints of the user and the customer.
Does the situation demand a human decision maker, someone whos authorized to ignore the rule book and make a judgment call?
If so, the job of IT is to make sure that useful and accurate information is available on demand and to streamline consultation with specialists as needed. But how many times do your customers have to repeat the same information, such as their names and account numbers, to a series of representatives as they get referred from one to another?
If it was worth the cost to provide a live-operator option, its worth accumulating data on present and past interactions (phone, e-mail and paper) and making it handy for any operator who becomes involved, now or in the future.
Do your customers come to you with predictable questions and concerns? How often do they try to make a routine inquiry, only to be asked for a ZIP code and referred to the sales rep for that regionwho, of course, is never in and for whom they will have to leave a message?
Thats not being in the loop; thats being an irritating bottleneck.
A Web site with an FAQ page, a voice response system with a fax-back option, and other simple and cost- effective measures makes you look responsive and considerate of customers convenience. If the sales rep gets an automatic notice of the inquiry, a personal call can followand everybodys happy.
Finally, in every application, systems should aid their users in capturing data. For example, ZIP codes imply city namesno operator should ever need to enter both.
Remember, its a loop, not a knot.
Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at salesforce.com, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.