The Managed Services Provider Blog

Jun 14 2012   9:06AM GMT

Out of Control Clients

mspprophet Darren James Profile: mspprophet

You know the one’s. They were a tough negotiator in the sales process and now they call for the simplest thing, jamming up the help desk every morning at 8am. You would like to just dump them at this point, but you need the cash flow. So what if anything can be done to save this relationship?

Well that is exactly what the problem is, a relationship problem. Somewhere along the line, both of you did not express what was the reality of who you are. Perhaps the client did not tell you that they are a group of extremely picky people who don’t listen. Maybe you forgot to tell them that you make money by them not calling, either way there is a disconnect in the relationship.

Can this be saved? YES! And maybe no. Part of managed service best practice, are tools that might just solve this dilemma. Find out what their pain points are and develop a plan to address those head on. Most clients don’t want to spend all day on the phone with support. Your clients would be very happy if they didn’t have to call you. So maybe what is happening with this client is that YOU have taken your eye off of what their pain is or was and got distracted by focusing on the bad parts of what is happening between you.

Every business relationship has some basic needs that need to be met for them to work. Find out what YOU need to do, and make some changes. It’s easier to fix a broken client then to replace them, most times.

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  • ShawnHendricks
    And then we all hugged. Heh. Yes, it can be difficult communicating ideas, goals, dreams, and concepts between folks of different backgrounds. You may have to approach this investment with a rapid prototyping mindset. If this [likely scenario] happens, what do you do? If that happens, what do you do? What do you expect me to do? I expect you to fix it. How quickly? What if it is systemic and I cannot. What about a work-around. Communication and establishing baselines and ground rules is key. NEVER skimp on the contract phase. All parties must know their parts and play them. Also know that contracts are not just what you establish from the get go. Contracts are struck by precedent over time. "But Becky always came right over to my desk. She gave me her extension so I could call her directly. I don't even know this new person, Marge." Becky was hit by a drunk driver last week. A precedent has been set. Happily, in our little scenario above, you have an out. "Becky wasn't following company policy." You get to play hard nose. Okay, so what I'm trying to get across is NEVER pussy-foot around an issue. Handling things head-on is the least painful and it is honest. But what about precedents that go astray? There are two ways of handling them. 1) Suck it up - but make sure everyone not involved is trained not to engage new clients in the unfavorable practice. 2) Suck it in. Maybe you like the results of the new precedent so re-write new contracts to incorporate them, while charging accordingly. Add a line item to your price list. But this is also the case in a direct hire situation. "I can't do X if you have me doing Y, so before I do Y, I need assurances you won't penalize me for not doing X. After all, it is you, boss, who sets my priorities." If you don't say it, you ARE still responsible for X. But don't use it as an excuse - bosses hate that.
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