I used to be a ghost. I was the person who did everything in my power to not interact with my users – wander by their office and keep walking by when I saw them at their desk, schedule time to work on issues when they would be in a meeting and I’d have their computer all to myself, communicating entirely via email.
Being a ghost isn’t the best way to serve your users, though. It’s so tempting – it seems like you can get so much more done when you just do it, no interruptions. But if your users don’t know that you are helping them, you aren’t doing them any good.
This was really brought home to me when I was supervising another ghost. At review time, one of their customers told me how frustrated they were – “He does good work – but it sucks to not know that we can use something, and then later find out that it was fixed days or weeks ago. Not knowing impacts our productivity, so he might as well not fix it at all.”
If you are a ghost and really hate the thought of in-person interaction with your users, here are some ways to inform them but stay on the edge of your comfort zone:
Leave a little note
Sure, you can do a drive-by and make sure to work on their issue when they aren’t around, but make sure you leave a note telling them what you did and what they need to test. It’s best to have something printed up that you can just fill out – that makes it nice and professional.
Schedule an appointment
Scheduling an appointment lets the user know when you’ll be working, so they can plan around it but still know when the work is being done. If you schedule a few minutes at the end for them to test, you’ll be less likely to have to revisit the issue.
Do things remotely
Honestly, I’m not a fan of doing remote work, because I do think that interacting with people produces the best results. But if you are really reticent, you can fix most thing with a good remote control tool. That doesn’t clear you from communicating, though. You still need to schedule it, and you still need to tell people what’s been done.
create a template
If communication is really hard for you, create a template that you can reuse. Talk to a coworker to see what they send to people.
use a form
Our department gave us giant sticky notes that said, “Hi, (fill in your name) worked on your pc at (time) on (date). Work performed was (several blank lines).” These were handy and standard, so our users knew immediately what they were when they saw one on their monitor or desk.
It’s fine to be reticent to interact with people all day long. Lots of us are that way. But you can still provide good customer service by just leaving a little something behind to let people know that you were there.