Sinking Ship: The Internet Is Down

10.29.15 By Deb Ferber


“The Internet is Down”

This is one of my absolute favorite quotes from the early 90’s. The internet was not exactly “down” that day. We were implementing a large Oracle Financials project at the Tennessee Valley Authority in Knoxville, and someone was not able to access the application. It was still the early days of the World Wide Web, and we were all learning new ways to work.

But there was something wrong! It wasn’t that the Internet was down (can that even happen?). It was something far less impactful, but important nonetheless. We figured it out and gained access to the application.

The problems I hear about in Information Technology are usually, if not always, related to something not working as expected. What I hear is the system is slow, it’s not working, it’s locked up, and so on. The issues you hear about may be different depending on your industry, but the approach is the same.

So what do you do?

Start by believing.  The last time your car was acting up and you took it into the mechanic, did you start to explain the issue you were having only to have the car behave perfectly for the mechanic? Did the mechanic dismiss your concerns or did he trust and believe in what you were telling him? You know there’s an issue, and unless your mechanic also believes there is an issue, your car isn’t going to get fixed. 

Assess what your customer is telling you. You have to really listen. Did your customer provide some hidden clues as to what is really happening while they described the problem to you? Read between the lines to get to the bottom of your customers’ issues.

Collect other data. Has another customer told you something similar? Are there other contributing factors that may have changed that may be causing the issue? Stretch a little, think beyond what your customer is telling you. 

Reconnect with your customer. Ask any follow-up questions you have, let them know you’re looking into resolving their problem. Turns out I should have taken more Communication courses in college, and maybe everyone else should too.

Acknowledge your customer’s contribution. If the information they provided in any way has helped you identify a larger problem, let them know. It’s nice to let your customer know that their concern helped you solve a problem.

Only after repeated instances where you can find no issue, should you consider that there really is no issue and that the ship is not sinking. Until then, you have to believe…

Get the right resources on board to uncover hidden issues your team is struggling to solve. Invest in an agile outsourcing company like 4th Source to go above and beyond to please your customers. 


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