Monday, 25 June 2007

When in doubt ... err to your client.

We keep copious notes on pretty much everything we do that is client related.

We keep those notes on file for at least 6 months after the fact, then we scan (duplex) every document into our system. The paper documents themselves get shredded from there.

That is not always the case though, and sometimes that can come back to catch us.

We had a simple conversation with a long term client about recovering data from a crashed operating system on one of their personal computers.

When arrangements were made to recover the data, we just found out, our client was also under the impression that we were going to format and reload the data.

Given that data recovery happened over a month and a half ago and they just received their system back - they were not available during that time - they just found out that the machine was not up and running with a fresh operating system install.

This is one of those cases where we thought things were straight forward with a long standing client so guess what? No notes. :(

Fortunately, after discussing things with them, we were able to come to an agreement.

We gave them the benefit of the doubt and offered to pick the machine up, format it, install and update the OS as they thought we were supposed to.

Plain and simple isn't it?

Even though we may be right about a given situation, with no notes to back things up, and even with those notes, we must follow through with our client.

In this case the cost to us is a number of hours of labour to setup the machine.

The benefit to us though is a client who understands that things are not exactly clear but we went ahead and followed through with them anyway.

With our newer clients, we are strict about keeping notes and gaining job approval in writing. Obviously, we must build up the business relationship and the trust between us first.

We always make sure to have the job being done and their acceptance of that work in writing via e-mail, fax, or purchase order. It makes things simpler for the both of us at the beginning of the business relationship.

It also establishes a pattern of behaviour between us that facilitates a clear level of communication and a deepening of trust in us providing the requested products and services and our client following through on feedback and payment.

The Client/Solution Provider relationship is a two way street after all. Isn't it? ;)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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