No matter how good you are at delivering managed IT services you’re are always going to run into problems with customers, just like any other business. As a computer business owner you could have problems with customers not being able to get through to the right marketing or IT person in time or perhaps your on-site technicians didn’t handle your clients in perfect manner etc… Fires will erupt inevitable that you will have to put out quickly and try to extinguish before the customer gets so angry that it would take the wisdom and patients of angels to try and salvage your business relationship. The larger risk is that one angry ‘former’ customer can spread their unhappiness just like a wild fire that could spread through out the local business community. The last thing you want to do is pay for IT sales leads, fight to make sales and then watch as all your hard work just burns up because of bad customer service. It’s imperative that you stop these fires before they get out of hand so the burning question is, “what is the right way to handle these situation?”
There Were No Other Holes!
I can relate and experienced that happening to me before when I got into the IT lead generation business for computer services firms. I was working for my Father’s HVAC Company and I managed the marketing and sales. We ran into a BIG problem with one of the customers that we had installed a brand new system for. One of our employees had stepped through his ceiling as they were installing the Heater in the Attic. As you probably already know this is probably one of the worst things you can do to a customer but it’s something that’s pretty hard to stop from happening even with the best training.
When I first heard of this problem, my father was trying to get the customers to sign the financial documents that would allow us to get paid. Evidently, my father had already hired one of our best contractors to come and fix the place where our employee had stepped through his roof, however the customer was not happy yet and wasn’t going to sign to papers until he was 100% satisfied. It came to point where my Dad had called me to come to the rescue.
When I got to this customers home and stepped through he door I was confronted with a HUGE argument between the customer and the my father. As soon as I saw our negotiations had fallen completely apart I touch my Father on the shoulder and motion for him to leave. This is when he told me that the customer refused to sign the documents even though we had fixed the ceiling. I told him I understood the situation and that I could take care of it. He looked at me very skeptical as he was heading for the door.
After my father had left I tried to clear the air with this customer as we sat down at his kitchen table to discuss his willingness to sign our documents. I paused for a while and reminded him that we know he worked for the Dallas Morning News. I told him that I knew he was an important man and that there wasn’t any way in the world that we were not going to make him 100% happy. Then I inquired for him to tell me what had happened from his prospective.
When he had finished relating to his side of the story I begin to ask him some important questions… First I asked if we had fixed the hole that our employee had stepped through. He responded that we had taken care of it to his satisfaction. Then I asked him what else we could do to make him sign our documents. This is when I discovered what exactly made my Father go a little bonkers. He began to explain how our employee had stepped through the ceiling all over his house and there were holes in every single room!
It was at this point that I reflected back on my reading of ‘How To Win Friends And Influence People’ and realized what my strategy would be to win this angry customer over to my way of thinking in-spite of his ridiculous demands. I asked him for a sheet of paper and pen and when he fetched them for me I told him that we could walk through every room in his house and document where all the ‘other’ holes were. Then I promised him that where ever we found a hole we would dispatch our contractor to fix them promptly. I then asked for a commitment from him that if we fixed all the holes that he would sign our documents. He agreed that he would and we started our search through the entire house for holes.
Here is why my Father couldn’t win his negotiation… There were no other holes in this man’s ceiling anywhere. My father couldn’t get over this fact and still get the customer to ‘see’ the reality. So the key to my strategy was not to begin arguing the ‘facts’ with this prospect, but to ‘agree’ with him completely. Therefore as we begin our search for the imaginary holes, I would stop in each room and he and I would examine the ceiling. I would inquire if there was anything I should write down for our contractor to repair in the room. In every room we went to he would tell me that there weren’t any holes for me to notify.
After we had gone to most the rooms in this gentleman’s house he began to lighten up on his stance that there were holes all over his house. I on the other hand kept reassuring him that we would make sure and repair any damages that he pointed out to us. Finally he told me that he was willing to sign our documents so the funds could be released. Once he had signed, I made sure he knew that if he found any more damages that we would still come out and fix it to his satisfaction.
One can only imagine why this customer would have imagined holes that weren’t there, however the key to successfully putting out the flames to this problem was NOT ARGUING with him, but to make it a point to make him feel important and agree with his point of view. When I wasn’t there to argue with him, it allowed him to see the error of his ways on his own.
You can use these ultimate customer service techniques in your computer consulting business in many situations from when you market your IT services to when you meet with prospects from technology sales leads. Your managed services business well be set for success when you decide to employ those human relations tools in every part of your marketing and sales.
John Black is the Marketing Director at MSP Telemarketing and has over 10 years experience marketing for IT providers and var marketing to help them get more IT leads that turn into IT sales.