Growing pains

When I was a kid growing up I used to get all sorts of aches and pains, when I asked what they were more often I was told these were ‘growing pains’. With the sharp departure of my teenage years meant I saw the last of these ‘growing pains’ but I didn’t realise that they would again come back to haunt me.

Recently business has been good, I mean very good.  The last couple of weeks has seen my week more than full of work which has been absolutely great as more work means more money of course.  The difficult thing with this type of influx of work is trying to manage this influx of work with the existing work as well as fulfilling the expectations of new clients.  This in itself is not an easy task as predominantly most new clients have a major or a significantly challenging issue which requires urgent attention.  For example, I had a customer call through to the “on-call” support phone at 8pm last Friday night asking for someone to go out straight away as he’d had no email for 2 days because the broadband had been changed over. This meant that despite being on a Exchange installation over the weekend it needed sorting out, 3 hrs later I was back home again. Going out at that time was not an issue, after all I love what I do, the trick is managing all of the expectations that come with this. This type of work also throws the entire work schedule into disarray and some tough decisions need to be made as to how to organise the week. 

Our clients have always understood that if ever there is a high priority job because of an emergency that we pull out all the stops to sort it out. Which essentially means that if the scheduled work is non-critical, ie. routine visit, then we would ask to rearrange the work if an emergency comes up. They agree with this policy as this is the type of service that they would expect so when it is their stuff that needs rearranging, once we explain the situation they will work with us to rearrange.  This policy has been a tremendous help both in the past as well as in the present but sadly there is not always enough hours in the day to get things done. As it stands we are getting close to the point where we will have to consider bringing another body on board to cover the new work but we need to ensure that the work coming in is of a consistent level before making the leap.  So how do I decide what’s not so important? Here’s some simple guidelines:

  • Is this job a fault/failure?
    Some site visits may not be as a result of a fault or failure they may be in-fact a scheduled site visit.
  • How many people does this situation affect?
    If the issue that you are responding is affecting more than one person then it will be difficult to “bump” it but if it is only affecting one user then it may be possible.
  • Can the client wait until tomorrow/the next day etc?
    If it looks to you like the job can wait, them ask your client. We always explain to the client why we need to change the appointment and explain to them that in case of emergency we always endeavour to pull out the stops and would do the same for them. This usually sways things.
  • How important is it really?
    This is a tough one as you may not see a signature in Outlook as being critical but to the user you can be sure that it is.
  • Can it really be done remotely? 
    This should be a no-brainer as it should have already been tried but sometimes the client will ask for a site visit and you just agree.

The most important thing is to engage your client and explain why, at then end of the day no matter how much preventative maintenance we perform, no matter how much proactive management we do there will always be something that breaks/goes wrong. We always make a point of explaining to clients that we have the “bump” policy that says that if an emergency arises then we will attempt to reschedule any non-critical site visits so that we can get the maximum man-power on to an emergency situation.

Hope you all have a great weekend and better week.

– Rob

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