Written by: Donovan Hoare
Blog 1 in a 3 Part Series
This blog, like so many I have written, comes from 15 years of practical experience when I started out eager and naive, making the choice to be an entrepreneur.
I am often nostalgic thinking back on the old times when I operated from home in a single bedroom garden flat. Giving customer service was easy then, I only had a few clients and had time to google any problem that might arise. As long as I was able to troubleshoot I was able to succeed as a one man show.
As the need to grow and the intake of new clients increase, the need to expand as your clients’ requirements grow, is critical. Personally, the hardest business decision I ever made was to “double” the company size and employ my first employee.
This was the best choice I ever made as a company owner, the 3rd,4th and 5th+ employees were easy additions. The ever expanding staff complement did, however, introduce new challenges. When service is based on one person “The owner”, a client expects a certain quality of service and business style.
The expectations one needs to overcome in growing a “One Man Show”:
1) I want the owner
So now after some time running a growing company, offering excellent service, it’s easy to gain new clients. As the first contact person, clients are familiar with and comfortable dealing with the owner and expect this one-on-one service going forward.
I still have clients 17 years later calling me on my cellphone to change an email password. Yes, I will do it for them, five hours from now, when I get to the office, however, even my receptionist can do it while on the phone in 15 seconds.
Because the client did not follow procedure they express feelings of service degrade.
2) Knowledge vs Price
As a business grows and new staff are introduced in junior positions to take on the simple activities and tasks that more senior staff and management no longer have time for; client calls are often first directed to these staff members (level one support). When calls exceed the qualification of the level one support the clients’ often experience the referral to level two or higher support as a failure or delay in service delivery.
Clients do not want to pay double the fee per hour or per SLA (service level agreement) so that senior level support is available at first contact. Clients that have grown with you and your business are often not eager to recognise that your value per hour has increased since 15 years ago. Today it is true: if you want to pay peanuts expect monkeys.
3) Response Times.
When growing your company, you will put more and more procedures in place in order to provide your clients with the service they expect. This often means that clients will engage and interact with various staff members at different levels.
Clients, however, tend to ask for specific staff members to which reception may need to indicate that he or she is not available.
Instead of being willing to speak to another staff member (assigned and available from the call centre), clients will CHOOSE to wait for a particular staff member (that may very well be the owner).
When the waiting time (minutes or hours) takes too long, the clients often complain about response times, even though the response time could have been greatly improved if they had interacted with the call centre help available.
“If you are not growing, you are dying” -unknown
So the best thing you can do as a one man show is to grow your business, try to keep the standard that you have set as a one man show and instil your morals, mission and vision into your employees.
Also, note that in all likelihood you will lose your 1st clients if they are not willing to grow with you.
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1) One Man IT Support, The Client Drama
2) Competing against, I can get it in-house – End August 2017
3) One vs The Team, The client benefits – Early September 2017