Free Work Experience Critical Thinking Example
Work Experience: Demonstration of Customer Support, Evaluation of Own Performance, and Actions for Development.
In every workplace, resources and personnel are used in ensuring customer support and satisfaction through the provision of quality services and products. Experiences in my workplace exposed me to the various challenges affecting the provision of effective and efficient customer support. The report focuses on a comprehensive analysis of the problems of customer support in the workplace and strategies developed to curb the challenges. It also analyses the role I played, as an IT technician, in customer support and interpersonal skills covering written and electronic communication. It gives a highlight of improvements and strategies that can be adopted to ensure organizations benefit from quality internal and external customer support.
It involves an understanding of the customers’ needs and ensuring proper solutions through technical and non-technical resources. At my workplace, the employees provide technical support, advice and assistance to customers concerning the stored data. A focus on ensuring customer support allows a company to win and maintain clients. It depends on the company’s personnel, resources, equipment, policies, and operations. Employees ensure customer support through the utilization of essential workplace skills including; document use, reading writing, numeracy, working with others, oral communication, continuous learning, thinking and digital communication.
Problems facing customer support and their solutions
As an IT technician in BT Group PLC, I have the responsibility of; providing face-to-face, telephone and online technical support for customers, providing information relating to customers’ software and hardware purchasing decisions, identifying the software and hardware needed to solve various problems, communicating with vendors and programmers, helping with the customization and adaptation of available programs to meet users’ needs, and ensuring users can use the equipment effectively (William Angliss Institute, 2015). It occurs through the use of specialized software and skills in storing, organizing, and making relevant information available. The workplace responsibility involves the demonstration of customer support by providing technical support and advice to help customers use computer hardware and software effectively. The role of customer support faces a variety of technical and non-technical. The four major problems are based on some of the challenges I faced in customer support. A subsequent analysis of the solutions I applied to each problem also occurs. It also explores what the company can do in dealing with the issue.
In an organization concerned with information technology, the safety of customer data is a crucial issue (Oaic, 2013). Many technological products and services used today require personal data of the customer. For instance, a customer’s financial information is required for online and electronic purchase of products and services through the use of credit cards. Many electronic products also have hard drives on which confidential information stored can be accessed by unauthorized persons if not carefully protected (Xerox, 2011). It makes data security a major challenge to customer support.
There are possibilities that can help in the protection of customers’ confidential information. The organization can encourage customers to purchase products with hard drives that have standard security features. For instance, disk encryption protects the customer’s data on the hard drive; this keeps it from unauthorized access. They can also take advantage of products such as Image Overwrite in removing user data from hard drives that are no longer needed. Companies such as XEROX and McAfee Endpoint Encryption Solutions can provide quality encryption services. The information technology organization can adopt McAfee systems in protecting valuable corporate data on shared servers and end-user devices. The system’s adoption guarantees comprehensive encryption. It also has a centralized and integrated management, consistent policies, proof-of-protection, and robust reporting (McAfee, 2015).
It is beneficial to both internal and external customer support services due to its several advantages. First and foremost, it secures data on office desktop PCS, MACs, VDI workstations, mobile laptops and collaborative tools such as USB flash drives and shared folders. It guarantees persistent and consistent data protection across a range of devices. Thirdly, it meets compliance requirements and protects the company intellectual property. The system also simplifies security management and consistently enforces company-wide security policies. It also decreases the whole cost of ownership and complexity through the adoption of comprehensive data protection solutions that integrate with centralized management. The use of surveillance database systems can also help in the identification of areas of risks, promoting prompt correction and implementing prevention strategies (Stuart-Buttle, 2003). The systems enhance the efficiency of the databases by using efficient software interfaces that save considerable effort and time in the processes involved. The use of effective systems guarantees data safety (OIPC, n.d.).
In reference to data security, I ensured all my operations adhered to the best strategies for keeping vital customer information secure. First and foremost, I ensured the protection of all customer information and my office operations through the establishment of strong passwords. It was through the use of long passwords containing a mixture of lower-case and capital letters, symbols, and numbers. I established a strong firewall to protect my network through the regulation of internet traffic. The antivirus protection remains updated. I also update my programs regularly; this makes me aware of any issues that need improvement. I also secure my laptop and mobile from theft; they also have encryption software.
Efficiency and relevance of workplace equipment
The quality of workplace equipment also affects the quality of customer support. With the changing technological world, advanced equipment is better suited to meeting customer needs. Organizations using outdated and obsolete equipment face a myriad of challenges concerning efficiency, security and quality of services and products. It is a technical problem that must be addressed to ensure quality customer support. My work as an IT technician requires the use of advanced hardware, software and systems in identifying, customizing, downloading and installing software for various purposes. The use of outdated equipment and systems affects the extent to which employees can provide technical advice, assistance and support to customers. The slow equipment affects the speed and progress of the entire company’s operations. It is costly for a company to use obsolete equipment while its competitors advance to more efficient equipment.
It is crucial for every establishment to carry out a regular analysis of the efficiency of equipment, software, and systems it currently uses. Before the adoption of new technologies, the organization must determine the productivity of technologies it has and how making changes will be progressive in customer support. In my workplace, for instance, an analysis of current technologies highlights their shortcomings in ensuring efficient customer support. Once identified, relevant technologies can be adopted to deal with the challenges. Whether the problems involve security and privacy, use, efficiency or costs, it is vital for the organization to take advantage of new technologies. My workplace has adopted new cloud and mobile computing technologies for increasing the productivity of information technology operations; this occurred after weighing the benefits and challenges of the move (Norton, 2011).
The workplace must be dynamic in terms of the technological equipment used by employees. The organization must strive to adopt advanced equipment, programs, and systems to ensure the efficiency of IT operations. It increases the efficiency of employees in carrying out the tasks and ensuring customer support through the effective provision of services. It is thus vital for every company to identify emerging advanced technologies and analyse their possible benefits to the company’s progress. It facilitates the decision on what systems, programs, software and hardware to adopt and what to ignore. Enhancing the company’s operations in turn enhances the quality of customer support it provides.
I contribute towards the elimination of the problem by regularly assessing the relevance of the equipment available for helping employees accomplish their tasks. The company has communication channels allowing the provision of my views and suggestions in the form of reports. I take advantage of the channels to present an evaluation of the equipment and possible means of upgrading them to maximize the efficiency of customer service. It is vital especially for my work as an IT technician; I need to ensure the employees use the most advanced and effective technological equipment at the workplace. My role ensures the facilities and equipment in the workplace are in good shape and receive regular maintenance. In my reports, I also encourage the need for investing in equipment that increase work output; this occurs through the reduction of time taken to accomplish tasks. Some of the changes I have made possible include the ergonomic keyboards, high back seats, and anti-glare screens.
Understanding the customer
One of the main problems facing the provision of customer support is the inability to understand and cater for the customer needs. The operations of several companies often fail to identify and cater for the customer needs. In IT companies, for instance, the technician may fail to comprehend the unique needs of customers in reference to the purchase of hardware and software. It is vital to take into consideration the uniqueness of the available products, customers, and their needs in order to ensure efficient customer support.
A customer’s satisfaction is vital to the company’s progress, and success is a competitive market (Hill, Roche, & Allen, 2007). Improving the quality of customer support occurs through a focus on efficient communication skills. All employees interacting with customers must have good interpersonal skills; they improve the customers’ experience by listening to, understanding and meeting the clients’ needs. It not only satisfies the customer but also establishes a reputation that encourages the retention of customers and retention of new ones. It is vital to use simplified and understandable language during interaction with the customer. The customer understands what the company offers in relation to his/her needs. It also ensures the employee gets adequate and relevant information from the customer regarding the products or services he/she seeks.
Regular training of staff, like in my workplace, ensures the elimination of obsolescence. All employees remain up-to-date in technical knowledge and interpersonal skills. It ensures all skills and knowledge remain relevant to the needs of customers in the current market (Bernatek, 2015). The situation can be improved by taking advantage of current technological advancements. The emergence of mobile communication devices helps in keeping companies aware of the customers’ needs through websites, forums, and emails. The company provides an avenue for customers to air their views about the products and services provided by a company. They also provide suggestion and make companies aware of their needs and expectations. Taking advantage of information from customer makes me as an employee able to employ appropriate skills and strategies in meeting the needs.
I adopted a variety of strategies in boosting my skills in understanding and catering for the customers’ needs. I focus on improving my customer service skills including adaptability, patience, empathy, consistency, work ethic, and clear communication. I also adopt strategies to improve my customer interactions. It occurs through the practice of active listening and following up after satisfactory customer service provision. I ensure I am available and give customers a way to provide feedback on services rendered. I also admit mistakes whenever they occur and work hard to correct them; this restores the customers’ trust and confidence.
The value of human resources plays a crucial role in the quality of customer support provided by an organization. The employees’ ability to effectively meet the customers’ needs depends on their overall wellbeing. According to Norton (2011), burnout is an increasing concern in many organizations due to a tight budget and increased workloads.
In technology-related work such as IT operations, the use of computers and other equipment results in musculoskeletal, visual and stress-related problems. In reference to visual complications, frequent use of computers causes complaints of eye strain, itching, eye discomfort, burning, aching and irritation. Some employees experience blurred vision, double vision and deterioration of visual acuity. Postural and musculoskeletal complications result from sedentary jobs involving sitting all day. Employees complain about necks, wrists, shoulders and backs. Job stress emerges from both physical and psychological strains such as muscle tension, anxiety, frustration, depression and irritability. It is vital to establish a conducive environment for all employees. An employee who has physical and health complications will not focus on the customer’s needs and meet them efficiently (Britt & Jex, 2015).
It is vital for organizations to establish programs and activities allowing employees to have vacations, flexible working hours, sabbaticals, and reduced responsibilities (Reddick & Coggburn, 2008). A professional break from work ensures the employee maximizes his/her full potential when at work. The workplace developed programs and creative ways of minimizing stress, satisfying employee needs, and matching corporate needs to employee goals (CWA, 2009). Secondly, the design of the work environment and equipment should encourage movement to allow the body’s relaxation, and prevent musculoskeletal complaints. Use of work rotation techniques ensures some employees do not spend too much time in front of computers; this limits the exposure of their eyes to complications. There should also be changes in the work pace, operations, rest, and break schedules. It reduces monotony and ensures the prevention of burnout due to excess work (Mathis & Jackson, 2008).
In response to the problem, I adopted ways to make my fellow employees aware of strategies they could adopt in reducing stress and health problems associated with working long hours. I encouraged them to engage in regular physical exercises to keep their bodies fit; this also reduces the effect of long sitting hours at work. It ensures the body and mind are comfortable; thus, the employee is in a position to interact with and serve customers appropriately. I also reached out to the HR department and made it aware of the problem and possible solutions. After the information, the department agreed to implement a short training program aimed at teaching employees on healthy office habits. During the sessions, we learned about what caused the visual, musculoskeletal, and stress-related problems. Employees started adjusting the brightness of their monitors and planned their activities in a manner that minimized the time spent on chairs. Sitting postures were also corrected. Employees trained in time management skills; this enhanced their efficiency and ensured they finished tasks within the allocated time. The strain and stress associated with the workload due to poor time management also declined. The department promised to look into the issue of providing more personal time through vacations and leaves.
My customer support and interpersonal skills
Problems associated with customer support can be handled through a focus on individual techniques and interpersonal skills displayed by the employees. In reference to customer support, regular communication training shaped my skills as an employee in quality interpersonal skills. An employee’s ability to handle a customer’s needs improves in terms of oral presentation, writing, listening and reading. Work experience made me aware of the need for the basic improvement of interpersonal skills. The integration of communication training with computer-based training made the improvement of skills easier. The nature of the IT Company made it easy to incorporate computer-based instructional materials in the training processes. The hardware, software and operational equipment all contributed towards the enhancement of customer support skills. Apart from benefits to the employees, it also reduces training costs (Bernatek, 2015).
A focus on technical training also helps in understanding what the work entails and how I can accomplish responsibilities in customer support. The training process imparts technical skills and knowledge through methods for instruction of factual information, technical concepts, processes, principles, and procedures. A well-informed employee can successfully communicate with customers and understand and meet their needs varied needs (Bernatek, 2015).
I also contribute towards customer support through teamwork activities; this enables me to learn from other employees’ skills and experiences in the provision of customer support. A teamwork approach to customer support involves working together with common goals and expectations (Gibson, 2011). It builds, among the employees, a level of quality, responsiveness, teamwork, communication, and morale. It strengthens the internal customer service orientation. Thus, when interacting with or around customers, employees must never complain near or to customers about other employees or departments. The display of teamwork shows the customers that the company is organized, and all members work together towards the accomplishment of common goals. Through teamwork communication, I succeeded in becoming an effective member. It also taught me how to handle differences in views, personalities, and management styles; this enhances my ability to interact with various customers through honest, open and respectful feedback (Gibson, 2011).
I have ensured the provision of quality customer support through a focus on critical workplace skills. All operations depict efficient time management, stress management, communication and organizational skills, anger management, and teamwork. It ensures the effective handling of product and technical issues thus ensuring quality customer care.
Benefits of good internal and external customer support
Customers are the most significant part of an organization no matter its size; thus, the establishment of a good customer support policy is vital to the organization’s success (Milgram, Spector, & Treger, 2010). Understanding the customers and their unique needs ensures success in meeting their needs. Internal customers involve the people within the organization such as employees. They are part of the culture and capability of the organization and provide essential services (Hill et al., 2007).
Ensuring good customer support for internal customers ensures the creation of a positive work environment. According to Perlitz and Hutton (2010), all departments can operate together cooperating through processes and procedures aimed at achieving common goals; customer satisfaction and organizational success. It enhances workplace productivity and the delivery of high-quality services and products to the external customer. Thus, by ensuring efficient internal customer support, the organization guarantees external customer support. It is vital for support functions within the organization to provide its internal customers with good services. A continuation of poor internal services is likely to handicap the employees’ ability to ensure good service to external customers. Satisfied internal customers have more focus on the quality of the services they provide to others (Hill et al., 2007).
External customers include all individuals or organizations paying the organization in exchange for services and products. They have a choice to get the products and services from one organization or its rivals. Ensuring satisfactory customer support increases the probability of retaining external customers and winning more from other organizations. It is because if good customer support is not available to the clients, competitor organizations will provide it (Perlitz & Hutton, 2010). Thus, great customer support is vital in ensuring customer loyalty, satisfaction, and retention.
The provision of efficient customer support also helps in identifying the customer’s needs and expectations. When an organization understands what motivates customers to acquire certain products or services, it comes up with ways to cater for the needs. Customer support allows an understanding of what the customer wants based on differences such as; age, physical and mental abilities, social, cultural and economic backgrounds. It allows the efficient matching of services and products to the needs. By ensuring customer satisfaction, winning and retention, the business benefits from an increase in customers. It attracts more clients that in turn make other people aware of the organization’s efficiency in meeting their needs. The business not only develops a good reputation but also grows in profits and range of products and services. The growth challenges the organization to expand. It keeps the business focused on quality. It develops new and advanced ways of ensuring it meets the customer’s software and hardware needs.
Customer support is a vital part of ensuring an organization’s success through the provision of quality customer experiences and access to products and services. A comprehensive understanding of customer support and some of the challenges it faces allows the evaluation of one’s performance as an employee and the performance of the organization as a whole. It is evident in my experience as an IT technician in my workplace. It occurs through an analysis of the solutions and strategies developed to cope with the emergence of various problems. An analysis of the benefits of providing excellent internal and external customer support highlights the importance of some of the strategies adopted and should be adopted at the workplace.
Bernatek, B. T. (2015). Training and Development. Reference for Business: Encyclopaedia of Business (2nd ed.). Retrieved 17th March 2015 from http://www.referenceforbusiness.com/encyclopedia/Thir-Val/Training-and- Development.html
Britt, T. W., & Jex, S. M. (2015). Thriving Under Stress: Harnessing demands in the workplace. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-993433-1\
Communications Workers of America. (2009). Computer Workplace Ergonomics. Washington, D.C.: CWA Occupational Safety and Health Department. Retrieved 17th March 2015 from http://www.cwa-union.org/pages/computer_workplace_ergonomics .
Gibson, P. (2011). The World of Customer Service. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning. ISBN-13: 978-0-8400-6424-0
Hill, N., Roche, G., & Allen, R. (2007). Customer Satisfaction: The customer experience through the customer’s eyes. London: Cogent Publishing Ltd. ISBN: 978-0-9554161-1-8
Mathis, R. L., & Jackson, J. (2008). Human Resource Management: Essential Perspectives (5th ed.). Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning. ISBN-13: 978-0-324-59241-2
McAfee Endpoint Encryption Solutions. (2015). Endpoint Encryption Keeps Your Data Safe: Core data protection components available in McAfee protection suites. Solution Brief. Retrieved 18th March 2015 from http://www.mcafee.com/ca/resources/solution-briefs/sb- endpoint-encryption-keeps-data-safe.pdf
Milgram, L. D., Spector, A. D., & Treger, M. (2010). Managing Smart: 325 high-performance tips every manager must know. Houston: Gulf Publishing Company. ISBN: 0-88415-752-0
Norton, A. (2011). 10 Challenges Facing IT. Tech Republic U.S.A. Retrieved 8th March 2015 from http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10-things/10-challenges-facing-it/
Office of The Australian Information Commissioner. (2013). Guide to Information Security: Reasonable steps to protect personal information. Australian Government. Retrieved 28th March 2015 from http://www.oaic.gov.au/images/documents/privacy/privacy- guides/information-security-guide-2013_WEB.pdf
Office of The Information And Privacy Commissioner. (n.d.). Privacy-Proofing Your Retail Business. Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA). Retrieved 29th March 2015 from http://www.oipc.ab.ca/ims/client/upload/Privacy%20Proofing_Mar19.pdf
Perlitz, L., & Hutton, H. (2010). Professional Business Skills (2nd ed.). Pearson Higher Education. French Forest, NSW: Pearson Australia. ISBN: 978-1-4425-2751-5
Reddick, C. G., & Coggburn, J. D. (2008). Handbook of Employee Benefits and Administration. Public Administration and Public Policy/144. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press Taylor & Francis Group. ISBN-13: 978-1-4200-5192-6
Stuart-Buttle, C. (2003). Chapter 24: Injury Surveillance Database Systems. Occupational Ergonomics: Engineering and Administrative Controls. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press Taylor & Francis Group. ISBN-13: 978-0-203-50793-3
William Angliss Institute. (2015). Information Technology Support Technician. Job Guide. Australian Government, Department of Education and Training. Retrieved 27th March 2015 from http://www.jobguide.thegoodguides.com.au/occupation/Information- Technology-Support-Technician
Xerox Corporation. (2011). XEROX Product Security: Keep your data safe on tax day and every day. Retrieved 29th March 2015 from http://atyourservice.blogs.xerox.com/files/2011/03/Xerox-Service-Field-Communication- 031411.pdf
Appendices 2 Forms and Log Book
Foundation Degree Network Management
Expected Finish date of placement03/04/2015
Residential Address (Whilst on Placement)
Home Telephone No: N/A
Mobile Tel No
Placement Organisation - FULL Name and Address
Placement Telephone No
Placement E-mail address N/A
Industrial Supervisor Name
Industrial Supervisor Job Title. IT Technical support
The following items should be included in your induction into the organisation, preferably on your first day. Please check off the items below when they occur and inform your placement organiser of any items not covered within one week of the start of your placement. This list is not exhaustive and other topics may be covered, which you may note if you wish:
Introduced to key staff members 27.02.2015
Lunch arrangements my lunch is between the hours of 12pm and 1pm
Place of work. British Telecommunications PLC
Dress Code. Casual Smart
Telephone procedures N/A
Post arrangements N/A
Car Parking There are employee car parking spaces available, Permit needed
HEALTH AND SAFETY ISSUES: DATE:
Emergency procedures 27.02.105
Safety policy received or location known 27.02.105
First Aid Arrangements 27.02.105
Fire Procedures 27.02.105
Accident reporting procedure 27.02.105
COSHH regulations/requirements 27.02.105
Display Screen Equipment regulations 27.02.105
Manual Handling 27.02.105
Protective clothing arrangements 27.02.105
Instruction on equipment you will be using 27.02.105
WORK PLACEMENT – SUPERVISOR CONFIRMATION
Work Placement - Review Performa
Log Book – Periodic Record and Analysis
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