A great article by Patrick Rhone has been making the rounds during the weekend for those who haven’t worked in the Mac support industry but want to be involved with the growing market of Mac consultancy. Of the sites that are linking to it, the focus has been on this piece:
Here is what I say, “I don’t know the answer to that. Let me research that and get back to you.” And I do just that. And then I call them back with the answer they could have searched for themselves if they only knew what to search for. Then it fixes the issue and I seem like some mystical wizard-being to them. Then they happily throw money at me. Simple.
It’s great advice. I worked as a Genius for over six years and one of the core parts of any training I was involved with Apple was that we shouldn’t be afraid to say to a customer “I don’t know, but let’s find out”. No-one is expecting you to know everything, indeed it can actually become off-putting if you have an answer for everything as it can give the impression you’re prepared to make stuff up for the sake of a sale or to get out of a potentially tricky situation.
However, I’d also add to this: don’t bullshit. Not even once. Just because you think you can learn it later doesn’t mean you will. There’s a difference between figuring out a problem you can’t solve straight away and supporting a specific piece of complicated software, network setup or system you’ve never even used before. Don’t tell a client you’ll be able to support something if you’ve got no experience or don’t know it too well. Again, let them know it may not be your field of expertise but you’ll help any way you can (and as Patrick’s article states, get to know other contractors who can help). The only thing worse than missing out on a client because you didn’t know your stuff is winning a client and then losing them because not only did you not know your stuff, but you lied too.
Patrick states that business comes to him 99% through word of mouth. If you lose a client because you weren’t honest about how you could help then all they’ll do is trash talk you if your name is ever brought up, and you’ll have absolutely no idea when that happens. For all you know, it could be at a convention where there was five or ten potential new clients, all now avoiding you because you’ve been given a reputation of a bullshitter.