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Relationships Might Be Your Biggest IT Problem

Posted by Mike Chaput on November 06, 2014
Mike Chaput
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When prospective customers call us in to discuss the problems they are having with computers, the issues are predictable: slow response times, long resolution times, lack of proactive strategy, a high-frequency of issues, data loss, downtime, virus infections, security breaches, etc. These problems are easily solvable, yet only a small fraction of those prospects elect to make changes to resolve the issues. Why?

It is never about price

It’s true that good IT support usually comes at a higher price than what the problem-ridden prospect is currently paying. However, price alone isn’t the reason why customers tend to stay with their current solution. After all, even a large increase in IT support costs will net out to be very small in absolute terms.

The aggregate per employee cost to manage the technology is small when compared to the much higher costs of payroll, taxes, benefits, equipment, workers comp, occupancy, and office expenses. It is even smaller when compared to the productivity and morale hits caused by faulty systems. Modern business has become so reliant on computers, that solving IT problems uplifts the company’s productivity, improving the bottom line even as this area of expense grows.

If not the cost, why do some people meet with us, complain about important costly issues, and then do nothing to resolve them?

Relationships versus process

In most cases, it comes down to relationships. It is emotionally difficult, even painful, to break off a relationship that has developed over the years.

Think about it this way. What a great IT support organization brings to the table is a well-defined and well-managed process for providing a repeatable and predictable result from a customer’s information technology. The prospect is asked to choose between “a process”, from someone they don’t know, and “a relationship”, with someone they trust. All of sudden the simple choice is much more difficult.

Most people have a good heart and they believe in the value of giving people the benefit of the doubt. They believe in second and third chances. They are convinced that because their current IT partner has good intentions, they will eventually figure it out. Unfortunately, they will become content with poor results for a long duration and will only be motivated to change when the situation becomes dire.

Low price vendors have little to no budget for growth

Unfortunately, most IT organizations will never reach the desired service level even with multiple chances. This is because most IT organizations are founded by former IT professionals who are extremely talented with computers, but very inexperienced with process engineering. Additionally, they likely have little to no sales and marketing expertise and they are missing critical business skills in finance, HR, and business planning. For these reasons, IT firms like this tend to price contracts low in order to win their initial clients.

Saddled with a lack of revenue, they are unable to hire the appropriate resources, purchase the necessary tools, or spend the necessary time in the background proactively preventing issues. As the firm grows, the founder lacks the experience to develop repeatable processes for others to follow or the managerial talent to get staff to adhere to what little process exists.

The firm will acquire an initial set of customers based on the founder’s reputation and an aggressive pricing strategy; however, the inability to repeat results as the firm grows and the lack of sales and marketing experience will generally lead to a lack of overall scale. The firm will stay very small. Without the necessary scale and proper pricing and process, the firm is prevented from taking the necessary steps to resolve the service delivery issues.

While the prospect would love to get a different result without having to end the relationship, in so many cases it just isn’t possible.

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