Ever had someone apologise to you when they totally screw things up? Have you ever done the same to your customers and admit it when you cause unexpected problems? I’ll be the answers were yes and no from most of you. Sadly that is the truth. So many so called IT Professionals out there will never admit their mistakes to their peers, let alone admitting them to their customers. I’m sure we’ve all been to the new client that we’ve just picked up to find all the issues that “That IT Guy” left behind… the backups not configured, the Antivirus software that expired months ago and so on.
However – if you’ve ever screwed up and told the client… then that client is normally one you will get to keep for life (provided you don’t screw up too many times that is). Thinking back around 10 years now, we had a client with an SBS 2000 server. Back then we sent one of our engineers out to the client site to upgrade their Trend Antivirus software to the most current version. The upgrade went fine and everyone was happy. Roll forward a few months and the client complained that their Application Vendor could no longer VPN in and connect to the 2nd server that had for the Line Of Business Application. We looked at the problem but could not figure out what was going wrong. In the end we lodged a call with Microsoft PSS to get their help. Microsoft took a look at all the information we sent them and then asked us to stop the Trend Firewall service… I said indignantly that there is no Trend Firewall service in this version of Trend… the Microsoft guy must be wrong… the Microsoft guy patiently pointed out the exact service and then we did the face slap.. Dohhh… Our engineer had upgrade the customer to the corporate version of Trend which did indeed have a firewall. This was the source of the problem. Ok – so we had the technical fix – which was to remove the wrong Trend product and install the right one. Now for the customer call… it went something like this…
Wayne: Hello Customer… we’ve been investigating the source of the problem and we have found the solution
Customer: Great – what will it cost?
Wayne: Well actually – I need to apologise for it – we made a mistake and need to rectify this for you at our cost
Customer: Great – how much will it cost?
Wayne: No … it’s our mistake and we will wear it – once again I’m sorry for the issue.
Customer: ….. silence…..
Customer: … it’s your mistake and you will fix it at no charge….
Wayne: Yes – that’s right. When is a good time for us to do this work for you?
Customer: … I’m still getting over the fact that an IT guy admitted his mistake….
Wayne: Yes – well we’re not like other IT Guys…
Customer: You’re not bloody wrong… – how’s Tuesday after hours sound
Wayne: No problems –we’ll have the Engineer out there at 5pm – it should take about 1 hour to do
Customer: and at no cost to me right?
Wayne: Yes – once again – sorry for the issue.
Customer: Great – we’ll have a beer afterwards.
Ok – so end result of that was that this customer has been one of ours for over 10 years now. He’s referred numerous business associates to us because he knows he can trust us. Trust is something that no amount of money can buy. It’s easy to lose if you abuse it though. Saying sorry for your mistakes is hard too – it takes a bit to swallow ones pride and admit you were wrong.
At the same time though, here’s another view on being focused on doing a good job. UberGeekGirl had an experience she posted here that she had recently… the consequences for her poor baby could have been disastrous. Did the Doctor apologise? No. I’m guessing he could not do that for fear of voiding his insurance. I love it though that the Pharmacist was worried enough to double check things. Take a note – we should all do things like this to help improve our customer service. It takes but a minute to review things and make sure we do a better job. That will avoid the mistakes and help retain your customers for a very long time.
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