Let’s Give Credit Where Credit is Due

I have often stated that sales people find the stage; it’s the engineers that put the show on. Sometimes IT engineers get a lot of heat from clients when they call tech support for the product they are working with at the client’s site. Some clients feel that they should not have to pay for the time it took the engineer to talk to tech support. “I could have done that!” they say. Recently I had one client use an example of a lawyer writing up a case. His comment was, “you learn from law school how to write up a case. When you are in business for yourself you don’t call the law school and ask how to do that.” My immediate response was, “No. But just before the lawyer finishes the write up the lawyer goes to the law library and researches all of the pertinent cases that apply. Cases are decided daily across the country and the lawyer needs to find what recent case law there is. You the client pay hourly for that lawyer to do that.” This client immediately switched the conversation to another subject.

It is a fact that IT engineers know how to narrow down (melt down) a problem, decipher the messages and alerts they are seeing, and, technically describe that problem to tech support. Most, if not all, clients don’t have a clue how to describe what they are seeing, can’t melt it down, and, don’t know how to follow steps being described by tech support without creating more problems. A client calling is much more difficult for tech support, and, it takes a lot more of the client’s time, in many cases resulting in more problems.

The second fact is similar in other industries. Manufacturers create patches and updates in part because of issues they become aware of over time. They come to market with a product or a new version of it, and after some time goes by they become aware of security breaches (holes hackers can use to get in), better ways to install or change the product, and/or simply create improvements. Over time the instructions describing how to install and setup a product can and will change. The steps/instructions the engineer knew are changed and the engineer has to call to get the most recent instructions. When encountering a problem the engineer contacts the respective tech support to see if they recommend different steps that THEY, the manufacturer, have recently developed for their product.

IT Engineers deserve a lot more credit. They are trying to provide the best possible service to clients. Just because they had to call Tech Support doesn’t mean they don’t know what they are doing, nor is it the case that the client gets to be relieved of the invoice for that time. I have seen appliance techs have to use manufacturer support and mechanics call in for the latest updates and changes. Just like the lawyer developing a case, IT engineers research the latest updates pertaining to the issue they have encountered. The clients who value the relationship with the engineer and/or their company understand and even expect this step to be performed. IT service providers must interact with manufacturers. Hearing from the field is one way manufacturers learn of issues that exist and it helps them better their product. Can you imagine what the client would say if they were to find out that the first engineer did not contact the manufacturer and a subsequent IT services provider did and solved the problem? In my experience, those clients who are always looking for a way out of paying will automatically question the need for contacting tech support. While I encourage clients to closely review all invoices, this intentionally overbearing scrutiny is unfair, damaging the client/engineer relationship, and a complete waste of everyone’s time. (Not to mention insulting to the integrity of the engineer!) Most likely they don’t value the engineer or their IT service company as a PARTNER and will pay for the cheapest tech support they can get regardless of quality. Like any industry, they will get what they pay for.

Rock on IT Engineers!

Robert Lane
ASE, Inc.
Getting you ready for tomorrow today
703-273-8388 ext 111

ASE, Inc. is an IT consulting, engineering, hosted and managed support services provider covering the Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC area.  Since 2000 ASE has focused on providing full outsourced IT department services to small and medium businesses as well as providing senior level expertise designing, installing and managing complex databases and network security consulting to very large entities in both commercial and federal markets.  Call ASE today – 703-273-8388.

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