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Old 10-07-2010, 11:10 AM
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Two scenarios came up this week that have got me thinking about a business issue that should become apparent in the detail.

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1. I took on a repair which turned into a bit of an epic. It looked like a straightforward job and no price was discussed initially. I thought I had figured out the problem, phoned the customer and quoted him $210. He ahm'd and aah'd a bit as the machine was a P4 and he wasnt sure if it was worth spending the money. I gave him a balanced assessment of the pros and cons, which he was weighing against the cost of buying a new machine outright. He eventually decided he wanted to keep the machine provided I could retain all his software functionality. It was clear in this conversation that price was a potential deal-breaker, and that $210 was the high end of his limit.

In the course of the subsequent work, I discovered a fault in his hard drive and ended up replacing it. Cost was $42.

When I set up the machine for him I explained that I had replaced the HDD but that I would stick to my original quote @ $210. Rationale - Customer had made decision to go ahead with repair based on assumption that quote was accurate. Would probably have not gone ahead had he known cost would be closer to $250. Result: Customer was happy. Lots of good will generated. Potential for further business and for good WOM.

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2. I did a nuke and pave on another customers machine + hdd replacement + RAM upgrade. Installed the machine at her house, set up everything (including Wireless / router config).

A few days later she range me with repeated wireless drop-outs. I tried to resolve the issue remotely but customer was unable to maintain connection long enough to make remote useable.

She asked me to come out and have a look, which I did (10 minute drive from my place). Changed the wireless channel, ran a few speed tests over about 15 mins (previously it would have dropped out altogether). Problem solved. She asked me how much she owed me. I said "dont worry about it".

Rationale: I had set up the wireless and the router in the first place. Figured it was my responsibility to put it right. Job only took 20 mins. Lots of good will generated. Good potential for WOM.

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My business is relatively young, (only 12 months), so my mission currently is very much about building a loyal customer base. I think this may distinguish what I did above from more mature businesses who can afford to be a bit tougher on their customers?

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So my question is, if you were in my shoes, what would you have done in these two situations, and why?
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Last edited by 16k_zx81; 10-07-2010 at 11:14 AM.
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Old 10-07-2010, 12:35 PM
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For the hd/$210 issue, I'd either offer an option to back out of the repair - charge a min fee, or offer a used HD for little/no cost.

As for the wireless issue, that's tougher, as I'd do a scan for area signals before leaving the 1st time. However, if the problem arose I'd try to walk through over the phone. If still not working, probably go there to fix for free, depending on if I sold her the router or not (perhaps).
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Old 10-07-2010, 12:55 PM
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I'd have done the same thing in both cases. I would have replaced the faulty HDD with a 2nd hand one if I had one at that time (after consulting the client).

Good will and happy customers are very important, especially in the beginning. You can bet your @ss this customer will spread the word on your repair job which very possibly results in new prospects.

Ofcourse you can't be this generous all the time. You could tell the client in advance that the price depends on the current situation and may change if unforeseen problems arise.

Good job man!

Last edited by PC Ops; 10-07-2010 at 01:59 PM.
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Old 10-07-2010, 01:00 PM
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I've been in business now 4 years and I still have a lot of "wiggle" room to keep a happy client. It's all in your business model and how comfortable you feel about it. I have given a client 5 hours of troubleshooting time on a flash problem, that ended up being a capped mobo! She wasn't thrilled about paying the $75 I had to charge her, to cover some of my time. I learned a huge lesson there. It's rare that happens though.

I think you get an A for both jobs.
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Old 10-07-2010, 01:04 PM
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Hi ZX. love the handle, I remember programming on these back when I was a young un.. all those years ago lol.

What I would of done differently, is during no1 saga, when thrown the errors you were, whilst attempting to install windows, is check the hard drive for errors, as par for the course.

If / When this came up, I would of contacted my client to explain what had happened, and left the decision upto them, if they wanted me to proceed with the repair or not.

If they declined due to cost, I may of offered to of split the cost of the drive with them, say 50/50, as it was not your fault it occurred on your watch.

But I think you handled the situation admirably, and will of kept a customer there. Just keep a note, of what you have done, so that your client does not pull the same trick again.

Re no 2: Was the router / wireless config, a existing install, or a new one?

If it was a existing one, I would of made a note of all the router settings before doing the repairs, upgrades etc; and sucked up the cost myself.

If it was a new install, then I would of done what you had done. But I may of talked my client through changing the wireless channel themselves, depending on their level of IT expertise.

If they couldn't follow the instructions, then I would of made a booking, and although wouldnt of charged full cost, would of issued a invoice, with a discount of some description. Even if its a small call out charge, or inv for 15 mins.
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Old 10-07-2010, 01:16 PM
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I think you did great in all the situations you posted.

The only one I would even remotely disagree with is the HDD one, I would weigh the pros and cons of just taking a hit on my income regarding something that has nothing to do with me. If I am going to make $150 anyway, I may just do what you did. If I had a spare lying around, I would ask them first if they wanted a used replacement (I won't put any used equipment in a machine unless the client knows about it) and it would be free.

The absolutely most important thing to remember, at least if you want my opinion and I don't mean to sound religious, but treat others as you want to be treated and what you personally would think is fair. Don't get me wrong, money is awesome and it is why we are all in business, but if you wouldn't want someone doing it to you if you were handing them $200, why would you want to do it to someone else? I personally believe helping others out and being fair will pull in far more business than anything else you could possibly do. The most difficult part about all of this is where to draw the line.

I'll give an example. I don't have any sort of remote support pricing for residential clients, but I have helped them with follow up things that they had questions with after I worked on their computer. Not too long ago, one of my clients called me and asked me to help them out with something on a different computer than what I worked on and had nothing what-so-ever to do with anything I previously did for them. I started helping him out, did a remote session, helped him with what he needed done. At the end he asked what he owed me and I told him not to worry about it. Afterwards, I realise that it took 45 minutes to do this. I don't regret not charging him or anything, I enjoy him greatly as a client, but I shouldn't undervalue myself and my time either.

The issue that can arise is they might keep calling you for small things that can be fixed remotely, but they don't want to pay you because it has always been free before. It is proven time and time again on this forum that people take advantage of free things, it is human nature as I do it too.
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Old 10-07-2010, 03:36 PM
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One of the benefits of having your own business is the ability to do things the way you want. I think you've laid out a good rationale for both of your decisions, and I probably would have done the same.

Plus, you've learned a couple of things that will enable you to continue to provide excellent customer service, while not getting bitten in the pocketbook: Always check the hard drive (regardless of the original complaint). Always check the wireless channel to ensure it's not too crowded.
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Old 10-07-2010, 05:14 PM
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both cases are fine, make sure to take the credit when you look out for your customers.
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