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Old 03-06-2009, 06:32 PM
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Question Customers asking too many questions

What's happening is my customers, and other acquaintances (people from church, wife's friends) are asking me TONS of questions, but they basically want either information on how to do something or are looking for recommendations on a product.

This is good and bad for me. It's good because they see me as knowledgeable and as the expert in the field. It's bad though because they want the information for free, many times without having had service done yet. I find that most people don't even just have a quick question, they plant themselves and fire one after the other. One customer had questions for like 20 minutes, but he only ended up buying a couple monitor cables. Another person was someone from church wondering if I could fix a hard drive so it would work again with a laptop they got for free - I told him it's much cheaper to get another drive.

How have you all handled these situations? Many times I feel quite abused/used - they just want the answer and feel they have a right to my information.

Perhaps I should re-evaluate how I answer the questions, instead of really answering them, steer them to my products/services. Never really giving an answer, but offer to solve the problem for them? For instance, if they are interested in knowing the best computer to get, instead of just saying Dell/HP/whatever, state that I can't recommend any particular brand - that I build custom PCs that are much better.
If I notice that don't have a UPS, instead of sending them to staples/walmart, say that I can purchase/install a UPS for them based on their needs.

Is that the best way to go, or do you think I'm missing the mark here?

Thanks,

Layoric
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Old 03-06-2009, 07:16 PM
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You have described the most difficult part of being a technician. There's not a lot you can do about it except when you see it about to happen interrupt and say - I can give you 2 minutes, after that I have a paying customer to see - they very quickly get the message. I've become very ruthless about it. People will just leech and leech until there's nothing left - but only if you let them. If it's during off hours or weekends I'll usually say "give me a call on Monday". I have on two occaisons, sent a bill to people for time they spent quizzing me - these were particularly bad - loads of questions, zero business. I never got paid but they never asked me anything again either. With strangers that I meet on jobs I just tell them I don't know.
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Old 03-06-2009, 07:19 PM
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Time wasters and brain suckers will drive you insane. Just keep repeating your price for the service they need and say something like Bring it on in and we'll get it fixed. Don't just give out information.
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Old 03-06-2009, 08:43 PM
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Default Excellent suggestions

Thanks for the suggestions. The brainsuckers/no sale people are the most pain! The next time someone does it, I'll remember the main points and goal, no freebies - point to calling them on my terms for service to resolve the issue or give them a very brief time for answering and cut it off. Then point to a service call / consulting appointment.

Great stuff, thanks again!

Layoric
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Old 03-06-2009, 09:40 PM
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I used to try and be nice, but now I break people down into a few categories and respond based on that. Good customers, friends, and neighbors can call me up any time as long as they don't abuse the privilege. Regular customers and acquaintance's get about 3-5 minutes on the phone before I steer the conversation towards me doing work for them. Non-customers that ask the wrong kinds of questions (i.e. how do I do this) only get answers that result in me getting paid somehow.

I can't stand leeches. I actually had a guy call me up one time and expected me to walk him through installing a modem, and then got mad when I wouldn't do it. I had given the modem to a friend, who gave it to one of his friends, and then he gave it to another guy. Somehow that made it my responsibility to get it working. I told him to call a mechanic and ask him how to replace an alternator. It took him a few seconds to figure out what I meant. When he asked how much I'd charge to install it I quoted him double my price. Better just to get rid of someone like that because if you did work for them you'd never hear the end of it the next time they try to leech.

Having dealt with so many people over the course of so many years it became much easier to weed out the time sinks. There is no point being nice to the leeches. If you're nice they might make the mistake of thinking they can try again. They don't understand basic social rules, or simply don't care. If they did then they'd know better than to waste a strangers time expecting something for nothing.
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Old 03-06-2009, 09:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seedubya View Post
There's not a lot you can do about it except when you see it about to happen interrupt and say - I can give you 2 minutes, after that I have a paying customer to see - they very quickly get the message.
That is great advice and we would all benefit from paying attention to it.

I have, on occasion, turned the time-wasters into clients and I've almost always wished I hadn't. One in particular I would have gladly given his money ($120) back if he would just go away. On the flip-side, I have a lawyer that any time she asks me a question, she tells em to bill her. I love that woman!

The problem, as I see it, is that these people don't respect the immense amount of time that we have given up to study our fields. They respect doctors and lawyers for their knowledge but because we don't have a title or degree, our time was worth very little to them.

We also make what we do look very easy so they don't respect us because they think that they can do what we do. It has taken us a long time to learn what we know and they think that we can just give them a "data dump" then they can do it all.

In regards to the respect that we receive, we are the starving artists of the professional world. In the eyes of the rest of the world what we do is based on talent not education, therefore we don't have to work at it because computers just come naturally to us and there is no learning. Here, we all know that this is untrue but just because we know it doesn't mean that we get respect for it.

So I ask the question, how do we inform the public and change the perception of computer professionals that we might be respected and valued as professionals?
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Last edited by TimeCode; 03-06-2009 at 09:53 PM. Reason: grammar
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Old 03-06-2009, 11:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdvancedComputerGroupInc View Post
You know Tim, that was very well said!
I second that, very eloquent. There's a blog post right there.
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Old 03-06-2009, 11:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seedubya View Post
I second that, very eloquent. There's a blog post right there.
Thanks... I might just do that. I wasn't trying to be eloquent, I am just frustrated by the complete lack of respect that 'puter techs get in general. Everyone thinks their brother can do it then we get called in to do cleanup and they're angry at us because we make it look simple.
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Old 03-07-2009, 12:42 AM
ifelloutofatree ifelloutofatree is offline
 
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Talking brainsuckers

Its like because we carry a lot of our tools in our head we are supposed to offload them to anyone that wants them. A local fellow I know who is a builder ran into me socially and asked if I would do a "quick trip" round to fix his computer "Oh I'll flip you $20 bucks" ........ like he was doing me some sort of favour......

I laughed and asked him if he could build me a bar-b-que and I'd flip him $20 bucks.......

I guess anyone whose job entails knowledge cops the same. I was out recently and saw a guy wearing a T-Shirt that said "No I will not fix your computer for free". Cracked me up.. As soon as someone starts questioning, I say "whats it doing" then I nod and smile and just say "would you like to make an appointment to bring it in and I have can have a look at it" - As soon as they hear the word appointment they know what it means. I am still being friendly and at no time have to reject them, so far so good anyway.
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Old 03-07-2009, 01:41 AM
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Happened to me once never happening again.

A Customer calls saying his computer is not turning on anymore, he asked me when can he bring it by so i told him and then he ask do u have an idea of what it could be? Im like it could be your power supply but im not sure i have to look at it. So i get a call a few days later .."hi im so and so and yeah it turned out to be the power supply i went to best buy and bought one and changed it myself..."


lol
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