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Urgent is the new “Simon says”

Updated: Jul 7, 2019

“Urgent” tech support needs have gone from the occasional hysterical employee to a widespread plague that’s thrashing already-reduced IT departments.  This has a direct impact on the quality of IT support companies receive. It’s an epidemic of “urgent” requests.

Life was easier with slower modems. You just had to wait. That 3mb file attachment took a long time, giving you a chance to get coffee or watch your kid’s baseball game. Fast forward to today: we’re live streaming, getting huge files downloaded on micro sized devices in the time it takes for a traffic light to turn from red to green. With great power comes great impatience.

Why the surge in urgency?

– smaller departments created by technology efficiency

– more expectations on the people who DO have jobs

– more types of work are being done on personal computers. Ordering a taxi, getting food, even setting a thermostat

– speed of access

– ubiquitous access – you don’t have to wait until you’re “in the office” to do anything, so people are on their devices a much larger percentage of the day than ever before

How does a hospital emergency room decide who to prioritize? Everyone is there because they took the “emergency” entrance. You don’t understand, this is an emergency. I know I said that last thing was urgent, but this thing is really urgent.

Urgent is now the new “Simon says” – if you misuse the word, then some people will learn to ignore it unless each request is accompanied with “urgent”. And if you find a support person or company that responds more “urgently” if you use the word urgent, then they will perpetuate this behavior.

Bad IT departments just wait until items are at full boil before responding.

Some will try to get people to prove it’s urgent.

Some will argue and explain why it’s “not” urgent.

Nothing solidifies an IT person’s “jaded” behavior like constantly being bombarded with other peoples’ emergencies only to find many of them were embellishing them.

What can you do to prevent this?

  • play fair. Don’t embellish or amplify something that’s not truly urgent

  • respect that your IT support person/dept/vendor is going to need to do their OWN assessment of the urgency. Your emergency is just that: yours. Others have theirs, and someone has to reconcile which ones will take precedence.

  • save your “E tickets” (it’s a Disney thing, you’re too young) –  the very best IT customers use “urgent” sparingly.

What can your IT person(s) do to prevent this?

  • explain to you the current load of work, let you see their predicament

  • get an agreement from your team on priority so they aren’t the bad guy/girl for choosing “wrong”

  • teach you how to fish rather than just “fix it”

  • communicate better why they won’t be helping you immediately

  • give you some options to be more self-reliant or find other alternatives

  • focus on the real urgency. Fixing your laptop isn’t the problem, getting that presentation emailed to the client is, perhaps you can do it from another computer, or from webmail if your Outlook isn’t working

Once you’ve gotten your urgent item fixed, now what should you do? 

Say “THANK YOU” to the IT professional. Your emergency is rarely their fault. But it becomes their problem very fast.

  1. Ask “what could I have done to prevent/avoid this?”

  2. LISTEN carefully, don’t just nod. It may not be intuitive. If it’s just a “yeah, I know” and you say that, you’re basically saying “I don’t care about doing it the right way, and I’m likely to abuse the emergency privilege again”

Urgent is relative. Your urgency is just that: yours. Consider the juggling that the IT team has to do across all the urgent requests and your company will benefit by truly emphasizing strategic needs ahead of squeaky wheels.

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