At Magma we often get asked by our customers “can you help with this” or “do you do this”, and in most cases it’s something IT or comms related that we almost certainly can and will look after.  Its actually quite sweet that they ask in the first place!

Ok so in some cases it’s a microwave, or a gas boiler, or a bug zapper, which of course we are more than happy to help with, but don’t really “do” in the classical sense.  It doesn’t stop us having a look, especially if there’s a nice cup of tea in the deal.

But aside from the occasional curve ball of a random kitchen appliance, we pride ourselves at Magma with having a strict “yes policy”.  There is nothing worse than struggling with something, and asking someone for help, only to be told they can’t (or sometimes won’t) help you.  In technology we see this a lot because it “wasn’t covered” under a support contract.  When stuff goes a bit sideways and foofy, that’s just not what you want to hear.  “No problem, of course we can help”, that’s what people want to hear, its like a soothing massage of relief, a ray of light on a dark and stormy day.

This got me thinking recently about our approach to what we do, where our core skills lie and how we perceive requests for support from our customers.

Suddenly it became very clear to me; we don’t actually look after things; we look after people.  We help people interface with the technology they use.  An example of this is a customer with a laptop and new printer, and the printer wont print.  Firstly, we speak with the customer, we understand some of the details regarding the laptop and the printer, we find out what they have done so far to try get it working and we find out what happens currently.  Then we would typically connect remotely to the laptop, maybe download the printer driver (or in some cases the correct printer driver) install, then configure and test.  We would then explain to the customer why it wasn’t working, what we had done to make it work, and any other information they might need going forward.  We also make a very clear point of reassuring the customer that this kind of thing is fairly normal, there is no reason for embarrassment on their part and it was an absolute pleasure to be able to assist them.

So we didn’t really fix a printer, we certainly didn’t fix the laptop, and I doubt we are even remotely qualified to fix a person, so what did we do exactly? We managed the relationship between the customer, their laptop and their printer.

If you think about it, that makes us more like social workers than IT professionals!

In some cases we don’t have the option to connect remotely to someone’s laptop or PC to look at an issue, we have to talk them through it.  That takes patience, you have to be very clear with your instructions, and the customer needs to follow your guidance carefully.  I love to point out that “anyone can land an aeroplane so long as there is someone in the tower to talk them down”.

But at the end of the day we manage the situation itself, we support people, we help them get on with the things they need to be doing.  At the end of the day, all anyone really needs is someone to help them navigate the day.