Thursday, 9 July 2015

How to Turn Your Worst Clients into the Best – Part 2

As promised, I am following up these series with real-life experiences. Thanks everyone for following! I’d love to receive your comments too.

The Case

Recently I was involved in a website development project. The client had an e-store which he wanted to get updated and have some bugs fixed. We checked the work, had some discussions about the price (the client did not accept our initial price) and started the job. Things looked simple at first, and I had one of my friends to work on it remotely. But soon, things started to get really screwed.
It turned out that the old developer was a total newbie, and the code was packed with bugs ready to explode. And my friend was not accustomed to these kind of jobs, so even while we thought the job is complete, bugs started to pop up here and there.

Two years ago I was involved in a website development project. The salary was VERY low compared to my standards, and we had to give top quality project on time and budget. What made things worse was our involvement in two other simultaneous projects, and my colleagues needed my help there too. Naturally, that project was last priority in my manager’s view.
Soon the client began worrying about the slow progress, and a threat to terminate the project and close the job completely which naturally was not what we wanted, especially as this was a niche market we were trying to join. Our aim has always been to have the happiest customers because we know that this is the best marketing effort in itself, leading to more opportunities and more customers. So we had to make a call.

How We Solved This

The first step was to keep the client. So we called the client and ensured him that we would get his job done, promising to deliver his jobs on one of the most recent technologies available those days. This naturally grabbed his attention and satisfaction, but it was also a risk factor as we had to work a lot more than it would usually require. We accepted to do extra work so we could keep the client.
Next step was when we got those other two projects off our shoulders so we could focus on this one. We did round-the-clock development just to make sure the project got up in time, and here is where the risk really paid off: it proved that our decision to work on the new technology was completely correct and the system could rapidly adapt to our client’s needs.
With this came the third step; the salary. The client was reluctant at first but when he began seeing the results, everything changed. Let me be brief in that our work still continues with this client to this day, and the payment we receive has almost doubled.

Lessons Learned

-          You should not be afraid of taking risks. Had we not done that, the entire contract would be lost
-          Development is a constant learning process. I learn new things in every project I work on and this allows us to be more efficient with each project.
-          It’s a fine step when to ask for increase in payments, and how much. I’ve seen contracts get lost just because of this issue. Personally I’m very conservative, but if it was not for my management we would still be on the same low payments as the first day. This is a risk too!
-          Caring is key. At the end of the day, the solution we offered was 150% to the benefit of the client and better than anything he anticipated. That’s what got us this far.

David Niki is the Operations Manager of Comelite ITSolutions. He has been in the software development industry since 1995, working on games, sites, desktop applications and mobile apps.

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