Beyond the Ticket: A Human Approach to IT Support

By Elizabeth Clor

Information technology experts agree, human-centered IT support is superior to traditional, technology-oriented approaches that prioritize technical problems. Human-centered IT is still concerned with maintaining internal systems and technologies, but it also considers users’ needs. It’s not just about managing IT systems—it’s about asking the question, “What kind of IT support do employees need?”

Before taking a human-centered approach to anything, an organization must understand the context of use for a product, service or design. They need information on users and their tasks, operating environments and any emerging needs in order to make the right decisions.

Here are three characteristics of human-centered IT support that any modern organization can adopt: 

Provide on-site support 

Keeping an on-site IT team is a foundational element of human-centered support. On-site teams focus solely on one organization’s issues, and they have the bandwidth to address any IT issue early on. On-site teams are also proficient in the technology they service—a quality that’s highly desirable for many industries. According to a survey by ICMI, 73% of tech support managers said the complexity of support calls is increasing because employees have become more technologically sophisticated and can resolve simpler issues on their own. 

In order to address users’ increasingly sophisticated needs, onsite teams need up-to-date infrastructure that can enhance their existing capabilities. Workflow solutions like Jira Service Management will create an ecosystem for all IT processes, connecting a company’s development, operations and support teams together into one common platform. Here, onsite IT teams can more efficiently and easily respond to service requests with the help of  individual and group chat tools. By streamlining operations, this kind of solution allows IT professionals to focus on ticketing and resolving issues—the problems that are affecting a company’s employees or customers. 

Around-the-clock attentiveness and expertise

Another common characteristic of a human-centric approach is 24/7 IT support—a capability that requires a mix of onsite and remote IT services. While an in-house IT team is likely to work a 9-to-5 schedule, remote IT service providers can offer support at any time—while still at a  reasonable price. Since independent providers have multiple clients, they have the funds to keep workers available at all times of the day without charging too much for their services. 

When a company has around-the-clock IT support, problems can always be promptly addressed. Connectivity issues or outages can be quickly taken care of, regardless of time zone or location. And with remote work on the rise due to COVID-19, there is an increased demand for this kind of constant, quick-to-respond IT support.

A human approach to IT also leans heavily on expertise. For instance, before choosing a remote IT support provider, a company needs to examine the expertise of every potential partner and choose one based on how well their experience lines up with users’ needs. This is part of the human-centric approach: If the wrong remote IT provider is chosen, operations are slowed, issues are less easily solved and employees and customers suffer.  

Prioritize collaboration  

Human-centered IT means becoming an effective collaborator with other departments, too. By definition, human-centered systems require collaboration and the active involvement of various parties. Interoperability is always important, but especially so in IT departments where support requests often require input from multiple teams for resolution. When any technical issue arises, IT has to collaborate with the product team, for example, in order to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. 

But generally, IT departments are stigmatized as being non-collaborative and instead operate in a command-and-control fashion that prioritizes technical skill sets over soft, creative ones. There are ways companies can foster a collaborative culture in their IT departments: For instance, some companies have found that by outsourcing some of their highly standardized IT work, in-house employees were able to focus on more strategic work. Companies looking to boost collaboration should evaluate the tools used to connect IT with other departments. Auditing current systems and talking to the employees who use them to figure out what is and isn’t working, companies can replace existing infrastructure with new communication tools, like Jira Project Management, Jira Service Management or other Atlassian tools, that better serve users’ needs.

By placing the needs of a company’s employees and customers at the heart of every decision, both parties feel cared for and appreciated. As a result, employees can become more productive and engaged in their work, customer retention improves and sales increase. Tactics for encouraging human-centric IT support may vary, but as long as they are fueled by the needs of users and customers, companies will naturally adopt this approach—and succeed because of it.