It’s important for IT service and support pros to know they are in a relationship with their client, and that often misunderstandings will arise. Here, Ben Brennan lists the five “love languages” of clients, and reminds us to be human-centered in our approach.

by Ben Brennan
Date Published July 12, 2021 - Last Updated December 16, 2021

About three decades ago, an author named Gary Chapman published The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. Soon the “Love Language” book had sold over ten million copies and was printed in 25 languages, and it consistently shows up on the New York Times bestseller list.

While for IT professionals, having a romantic relationship with your end users is almost never advised, it’s clear that an important relationship between IT and the business partners IT supports has always existed. And, like many romantic relationships, the professional relationship between the business and IT leaves a lot to be desired.

About a decade ago, I began to notice many similarities between IT’s relationship with the business and the kind of relationships that the book addresses. I was struck, for example, by how many issues and complaints between the business and IT were the obvious result of the business not understanding IT, and IT not understanding the business. In other words, IT’s biggest pain points occurred because they didn’t speak the language of their business partners.

As a former licensed therapist, I had done tons of couples counseling, and so I knew the basics of a good relationship. The clarity that IT teams need is an actionable kind of empathy, a way to understand the end users they support, and know how to be a better partner to them.

I dug into the research myself, and spent months figuring out what the enterprise equivalents of Chapman’s love languages were. Here’s what the research turned up.

It turns out, the love languages of our end users, today’s workforce, are a lot different than anything IT is used to thinking in terms of. We think in terms of tickets, SLAs, and procedures. In other words, we focus on what we do, the “service”, rather than the end user experience, which in itself is part of the problem.

To provide a world class experience, you have to speak the five IT love languages of today’s workforce:

  • Quality and Accuracy of Solutions
  • Speed
  • Technical knowledge
  • Approachability
  • Communication throughout the process

What my research suggested, and what the following 8 years of testing it out in the enterprise confirmed, was that if any IT team is considered excellent in these five dimensions, modern employees inevitably rate that IT team as excellent. Our current metrics are still important to measure efficiency and compliance, but the truth is that if you nail Quality, Speed, Technical Knowledge, Approachability and Communication, you will have necessarily done everything you need to do to wow your customers and empower their work.

To see how each of these relationship characteristics are implemented in practice, see the second part of my discussion on this here.

Ben Brennan is the author of Badass IT Support, Founder and CEO of QSTAC, and inventor of the QSTAC® metric for IT Customer Experience. Ben doesn't just throw around the term "World Class Support", he invented a tool to define, measure and deliver it at some of the country's leading tech firms, including Twitter, Yahoo, Box, Jawbone, and most recently as Senior IT Director for Verizon Media. Ben has earned a reputation for bringing a "mind-blowing" customer centricity to the heart of the IT culture at companies worldwide. Brennan has been named by HDI as a Top 25 Thought Leader and Featured Contributor for 2020.

Tag(s): supportworld, service quality, service management, best practice


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