& Why They Should Do It
As CEO, how much do you know about the day to day running of your business? How much do you know about your customers? Do you know them as a collective or as individuals?
Being CEO is tough. You need to wear a lot of hats and you have a lot of jobs to do. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t allocate a portion of your time to work on the ‘front line’ let’s call it. This is the best way for CEOs to find out about their customers and how their IT helpdesk teams handle the difficult situations that may come their way on a daily basis.
The best thing about being CEO of a company and spending time on the IT helpdesk is the opportunities that it gives to improve the business.
The frontline of your business is where your customer experience gets delivered. Michael Gerber from E-myth Revisited said that it’s important for CEOs to work ‘on the business’ rather than ‘in the business’. However, taking time to work with your customers allows you to get an intimate understanding of what it will take to ensure what's necessary to continue to grow your company.
Let's look at some core reasons why you should, as CEO, spend a day on the IT helpdesk and examine some example of CEOs that already do this.
Every Role Should Focus On Your Customers
You might think you’re just the CEO, but when it comes down to it, every role in your company should contribute to enhancing the customer experience. As CEO, your main goal is to set the vision for the company, grow market share, and above all else, keep your customers happy.
If you don’t keep your customers happy, you won’t have a business at all.
Your support team works tirelessly to make your customers happy. It’s their job. Your job as CEO is to make sure that their customer interactions are successful.
In order to do this though, you need to know what they go through on a daily basis. You need to know how they feel about the current processes in place, and you also need to know what they need to make it easier for them to do their jobs.
A few years back, an initiative was set up on social media using the hashtag #CEOonSupport. It highlighted the key need for CEOs to get an insider look into how their support team is serving their customers.
One CEO that takes this philosophy to heart is Patrick Clements from SherpaDesk. Check out his views on the subject in the short video below.
Working The Helpdesk Gives CEOs Directly Actionable Insights Into Their Business
We’ve already mentioned that being a CEO involves wearing a number of hats. You might be involved in raising capital one day, or hiring top-level staff the next. Doing all this often means losing touch with your current customers needs and the problems they’re facing.
If you run a startup, spending time with your support team talking to your actual customers is invaluable.
These customers are largely early adopters of your product or service and will be happy to give you feedback. Feedback you can use to get a clearer idea of what features they like, what features they don’t like, and the things you could be doing to improve the business. You’ll get to understand their main pain points in more detail and you can use this information to better shape your company roadmap to help you move forward.
Spending time on your helpdesk forces you as CEO to listen to the most important people in your business: your customers. Don’t waste your team’s time building something your customers don’t want or need. Instead, spend time talking to them and getting to know them in order to ensure the vision for your company has your customers at the heart of it.
What’s more, not only will you get to understand how your customers think and feel, but you will set yourself apart from your competitors who perhaps don’t show as great an interest in their customer's actual needs.
Spending Time On The Helpdesk Helps CEOs Spot Process Problems
The saying goes, you can’t fix a problem if you don’t know it’s there. This is true for your helpdesk as well.
As the CEO of your company, it’s your job to ensure that your helpdesk staff has adequate processes in place to do their best at making your customers happy.
By working the helpdesk, CEOs get a top-level view of the processes used. This will help them understand which touchpoints need improving.
As a CEO, delegating is a strong sign of leadership. But you can’t leave it all to your support staff to figure out. They’re busy working towards pre-set metrics like ensuring their mean time to respond is quick enough, or their NPS (net promoter score) is high enough. And doing that leaves them unable to see how the entire IT helpdesk is performing at an executive level.
This is where you come in. As CEO or founder, you have the ability to understand problems associated with processes and have the power to implement improvements.
SherpaDesk's CEO Support Journey
As mentioned before, SherpaDesk's CEO makes sure that he spends time on his helpdesk. When he and his founders first started the company there were only three of them. They were in charge of customer support, product, engineering, and marketing. There were also no strict dividing lines between these tasks as they had to handle them all themselves.
So if a customer had a problem, the three founders could sit down together and find a workable solution the customer would be happy with.
It was easier when it was just three of them and they had a small user base. However, when the company started to grow, the CEO realized he still needed to spend some time on the IT helpdesk to understand the problems his customers were facing and how he could better support his support team.
By doing this he could see that he needed to smooth the handoff between the customer experience, product, QA, and engineering teams.
It’s not just SherpaDesk's CEO that has taken this approach. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos said any manager who wants to be effective should be able to spend time in the trenches (does that mean we'll soon see Bezos manning the fish counter at your local Whole Foods?).
Bezos believes management who don’t spend time with their frontline staff often fall out of touch with the day-to-day running of the business.
CEO Working The Helpdesk Checklist
If you’ve been CEO for a while, jumping in on the helpdesk might seem exciting at first. You are eager to help customers and see what it’s like for your support team personnel.
We’ve put together this 10-point checklist you should follow when you spend time on your IT helpdesk to ensure the time you spend there is most effective.
1-Am I spending more time listening than I am talking?
2-Have I enquired about the current IT helpdesk documentation the team already uses?
3-Have I made sure I’m answering customer queries with the same tone the helpdesk currently uses?
4-Am I taking notes of the current processes involved in taking a problem from start to completion?
5-Am I being polite to our customers?
6-Am I documenting the problem to ensure the handover is as seamless as possible?
7-Am I talking to all members of the IT helpdesk team to find out what I can do better to support them?
8-Have I had a look at the metrics and checked they’re in line with our overarching business goals?
9-Am I prioritizing support tickets based on the metrics we currently want to hit?
10-Am I spending time recapping the call with someone else after I’ve taken it?
The benefits of the CEOs working the helpdesk are immense. So, if you can, don’t limit your time on the IT helpdesk to just one day. Spend as much time there as possible working with the people who keep your customers happy.