Have you ever wondered why you lost a certain client? It doesn’t just happen. There’s a reason why your client decided to go somewhere else. We all work hard to get our clients and work just as hard if not harder to keep them. Hopefully you are not guilty of any of the reasons listed below.
Be perpetually late
That’s right. I know support engineers who are constantly late for their appointments. But what can you do? You’re working one appointment and it’s taking longer than you thought. When that first appointment looks like it’s going to eat into the time of the next appointment, the only professional thing to do is to call the next appointment and let them know that something has detained you. This way, you can reschedule their appointment if necessary, giving them top priority. That last bit is crucial, as the lost time/work must be made up to them somehow, and making sure they get priority is the best way to do this.
Badmouth other clients
What exactly do you think goes through the minds of your clients when they hear you badmouthing other clients? They think one simple thing: “I wonder what they say about me?” And they would certainly be justified in wondering that. So ask yourself a question: What purpose does speaking poorly of other clients serve? I’m guessing the answer to the question will be “None.” Your best bet is to avoid speaking of your clients to other clients. Besides, if you don’t have anything good to say…
Send in late or incorrect bills
Billing is one of the more uncomfortable aspects of business to some people. But it is an inevitability. If you want to pay your bills, your invoices must be sent and paid. But sending out late or incorrect invoices will only frustrate and anger your clients. Create a billing policy and stick to it. Make sure billing is sent within 24 to 48 hours and no later. And always, always double-check your invoices. Incorrect work will delay the payment process, so bill correctly the first time.
Make excuses for not fixing a problem
We all occasionally come up against something we simply can’t fix. No one is 100% capable 100% of the time. And when you’re confounded, don’t make up excuses. Your best bet is to do one of two things: Inform the client you are going to need more time to research the particular problem or bring in another professional to take a look. There’s no shame in knowing your limitations, and your clients will appreciate your being up front and honest instead of wasting billable hours trying to fix something you have no idea how to fix.
Be rude to client employees
Employees talk. If you’re rude to a client’s employees, they will march right up the food chain to make sure what you said is passed on to those who make the hiring/firing decisions. And you will be let go for it. Companies tend to be very protective of their employees when it comes to outside influences. When you have any contact with employees of a client, treat them with the same respect you show the person who hired you for the job.
Hit on client employees
In the same vein as above, do not hit on employees of a client. I don’t care if you’re staring into the liquid eyes of a supermodel look-alike, keep the social interaction out of the equation or you might well find yourself on the business end of a pink slip — or worse. In fact, I would take this one step further by saying don’t fraternize with the employees of clients, even outside the business place. Should that relationship go south, so too will your relationship with the client.
Give out client information
I shouldn’t have to say this, but I have witnessed it firsthand. If you have information about a client (be it personal, professional, legal, or illegal) do not, I repeat, do not give that information to anyone else. In some cases, there is an implied confidentiality shared between you and your client. In other cases, there is an explicit confidentiality shared (complete with your signature on it) between you and your client. Violating this confidentiality could not only cause you to lose much needed business, it could also land you in court. Don’t do it. Don’t think about doing it . Don’t even pretend to think about doing it.
Christopher Diamond is the driving force behind CDA Tech Pros (http://cdatechpros.com), a full service computer consulting and support firm in the Phoenix area of Arizona. Christopher honed his skills supporting the IT departments in the entertainment industry in California until he relocated to Mesa, AZ in 2005. He now offers the same corporate grade support to businesses in the Valley with a wide range of services including Consulting, Implementation, & Support for Computers, Servers, & Networks, IT Security Assessments & Solutions as well as Website Development. Designers Circle is a good example of Chris’s technical expertise.