Nov 30, 2013

Rejecting customers

When I first started Bitcable, I used to get really excited whenever I had a new order. It sounds great, right? A new customer, more revenue, getting bigger! Yay! And it was great. I thought it was perfect… until there were trouble clients.

My “trouble client” classification is pretty diverse, in fact. I’ve had people open up support tickets constantly. Some have no idea how to manage servers and ask for help on trivial tasks. Sometimes, people break things and want me to fix them. There was once one guy who ordered a VM, paid his invoice, and then, less than 20 minutes later, opened a high priority support ticket asking why it wasn’t activated yet. In case you don’t know, “high priority” is for situations like “all of my services are down!”

I canceled that last customer’s order and refunded his invoice. There have been times in the past when I’ve let people like that in and it’s never good. Some people have this ridiculously high feeling of entitlement – all for like $4 a month… seriously? It’s annoying. I try to be patient, but when I think someone’s getting out of control, I’m going to give them a refund and tell them to leave. Protip: the customer is not always right!

Two years ago, I used to do a lot of hand-holding. The control panel software I use didn’t have OS templates back then, so I offered to install an OS on a clients’ VM if they wanted. I got pretty good at that ;). It was fun, too. Some people had odd requests, like a BSD distro. The first time I used FreeBSD / OpenBSD was when I set those up for customers :).

That was in the beginning. I quickly learned that installing 8 VMs a day was not a good use of my time. I stopped the hand-holding.

These days, I make it very clear to people who send me sales emails: they’re responsible for their server. I make sure everything works, but everything else is on them. You might ask: won’t you lose a bunch of customers that way? Sure. I guarantee it. I thought about this too, but honestly I save myself from many annoyances and headaches. I’m stopping potential issues.

I used to have a lot of support tickets to answer. It’s actually surprising how many I get these days… maybe once a week! And they’re all minor issues or questions! Major lesson learned from running a service-based business: being proactive is crucial! Oh, and be fair. I think many service providers aren’t fair, and customers get upset. I try to not upset customers when I tell them to leave. I guess it works considering I haven’t seen a single bad review after 3 years! #DoingItRight

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