Tuesday, January 08, 2008

New Year's Resolution: Don't be Interrupt Driven!

We get mail. Some time ago, Mike asked me about the practical side of monthly maintenance:


When you go in to do your monthly maint., how are you able to stay focused? How do you handle end users coming up and asking you questions and wanting you to work on other things while you are there?



It's a great question.

The essence of the answer is that we refuse to be interrupt driven.

We enforce that, in large part, by another hard, fast rule: We only work off of service requests.

We actually have a "welcome to KPEnterprises" meeting with the client. We explain how we operate. We only work off of service requests. We work those SRs from highest priority to lowest, from oldest to newest.

And here's how we explain it to technicians:
1) We are a for-profit enterprise.
2) You have to have a container that allows you to collect money. That container is called a service request.
3) Every service request has a definable point of success.
4) With rare exceptions, one technician can only open one container at a time.

Once you have this vision of the world, it is very easy to remind clients that we only work off of service requests. You can create the request while I finish the monthly maintenance. Or I can create the request after I finish the monthly maintenance.

If you've got a long list of things that need attention, open a service request for each one -- while I finish the monthly maintenance.

The key thing is that technicians have to be rewired. Technicians are born with a desire to solve problems, fix things, and squish bugs. You have to retrain them to understand that the big picture is: We trade time for money.

After they accept the time-for-money view, then we solve problems.

Customer service does not mean letting yourself be interrupted constantly. Just because someone taps you on the shoulder does not mean that you should stop doing one thing and do another.

In fact, even before I had all these rules, I never had much trouble being interrupted while working. Maybe I just come across as interruptible.

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