I've heard the customer service spill before. I can think of no better service to my customers than honesty. I'm with Chip on this.
Obviously, one needs to choose one's words carefully; however, one also needs to move on if someone is wasting their time. (BTW...I have, and still do use your "research" wording.)
I hate to say it, but a huge percentage of calls I've taken weren't from serious requests. A typical example:
"Customer": Can you make my doo-hickey do action A.
Me: Almost certainly.
"Customer": How do I do that?
Me: I'll have to research it and get you an estimate.
Customer: Oh. I was hoping you could just tell me how to do it on the phone. I don't want to spend any money.
At this point, it's pretty obvious the "customer" is just trying to get free help. I have had them go on and argue with me, and try to fish more out of me, and not a single one actually payed for anything when the conversation started like the one above.
A quick "can't" would have ended it a lot earlier. Maybe it's the difference between owning a business, and working for one, that makes Chip and I agree here.
In an organizational environment, it's not much different. The end users consistently call for things that are against the organizations policy, or to ask for features that require much more work than they think. ANYTHING can be done with enough time and money. It's typically not up to either the consultant, or the internal IT guy, whether those resources are going to be allocated.
I understand the cs perspective; however, I.T. can not always follow those principles because it's too easy for people to take advantage of them. If a customer is willing to pay for the time...super. But they have to make that judgement.
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