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Unreasonable user request

I have a top producing agent in my office that basically gets his way with everything since he is such a high earner.

Recently, he has been pestering the CEO and COO of the company about a problem that one of his clients is having accessing the company website. This client is at a major financial institution and states that they have difficulty pulling up our company?s website, but no others.

This agent will not disclose his clients name, telephone number or location, however, expects us to resolve the problem. We have over 1 million visitors per month on the website and have not received any complaints to our feedback mailboxes, nor heard this complaint from the over 1000 other agents at the company.

The CEO is demanding answers, but I am at a loss for the proper response. As it stands now, the COO and Director of Sales are going to go with the agent to the clients work location, neither of whom is very technically savvy. The agent does not want me or one of my technicians to go.

Any advice or anyone experience something similiar?

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Take a deep breath

by zaferus In reply to Unreasonable user request

This sales person is a top producer, and I'm guessing has the ego to match. I'm guessing if he's bringing in the top guns (execs) they are going to meet with the clients top guns as well.

Let them meet, say all their power words that give them warm fuzzy feelings, and just wait. They will come back as the technical need still won't be satisfied, but the business relationship needs will be addressed.

Then if they still don't give you information about what's going on you need to hold firm that: not having complete knowledge about the circumstances of the problem is going to limit your success in solving it"; and ask 'how important it is to present your companies' strongest technical skills and succeess to the client'. I love the looks that questions gets when I pose it.

Be calm, logical and prepared. If this is about money (which it always is in sales) make your arguements focused on business success through strong technical delivery.

I'm guessing it won't come to this though, and they will come back with the client's requirements for what they need to get solved and then ask your department how it can be solved. The ball's not in your court right now - but it will be back! Now is the time to prepare for when it does.


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Explore alternative ways of giving support.

by romeroGT In reply to Unreasonable user request

This has happen to us, sometimes it is because there is an interest in not using the web application, but we still have to offer support, tell your CEO the following ideas:

1. Offer telephone support, let them call you so you don't have to know who the mistery client is. Be prepare with a good checklist, starting and being sure he is conected to Internet, can resolve your site name and has the proper URI.

2. Offer you can assist the client's IT people in order to solve detect the problem "you might have" (this is important, don't be 100% sure the problem is not in your hands).

3. You have to try convince your CEO/COO to go with them, tell them you best interest is putting this to work and stablishing if there is something wrong at your site. Would they go visit a sick friend to help him without having a Doctor visit ?

4. At least, get help from a non IT person that is tech-savvy (at least web-savvy) and convince your CEO to get him/her to go with them.

I also coincide that this is not an executive-level kind of problem, and you can use this argument in your favor.

Hope this helps...

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The voice of experience

by David_Thomson In reply to Unreasonable user request


I completely understand the issues you are having. I work in a field where there is a HUGE divide between the Sales force and the technical consultants there to aid them. Technical consultants are oftem viewed as inhibitors the sales process and are seen as nothing more than 'geeks' who can't relate to the world outside of Star Trek. We all know this is not the case, but in the areas where Sales, Management and Techs collide Techs will lose out each time. Often the TEchnical resources are not used correctly and undervalued by the companies that one would think should know better. Your solution is to accept this one as a loss, but work with your supervisor/team leader/manager to correct this view. Sales people are flighty and s/he may hate you today but they will love you tomorrow. Some steps include Tech Consultants to attend Sales meetings and be active in the process - Yes, I know we don't get paid for it like sales people do, so do it for the love of the company . Good luck and let me know how you go.

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Not unreasonable!!

We deal with this all the time. I don't think its an unreasonable request. If someone can't access your site, they aren't going to be able to find the feedback mailbox to report the problem. The agent may not be able to disclose information about the client for privacy or other reasons, so it sounds like he is going to be your "liason" to the client. You are going to have to make some assumptions, run some tests, then give some questions to your agent to give to the client.

Have your developers tested your site for browser compatibility? Users with old versions of Netscape or IE, users with Macs, and users who are using the popular new Firefox browser all report various display problems with certain sites.

Also, the site may require certain browser configurations....for example, if a popup blocker is installed, many sites don't work right. The site may require an ActiveX control or Java applet to be installed that may be getting blocked. Many sites that rely on cookies fail because the browser may not accept cookies.

All you can do is give the agent a list of things to try with the client and expect to get detailed results back. I've found that describing how to do screenshots works wonders. Make sure your CEO and COO see the plan too.

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Top Producer vs. top prospector

by seatoast In reply to Unreasonable user request

The main issue is this: You've got a top producer making demands that you're unsure of the ROI on fulfilling. You may have some prospectors who are trying to subvert your experienced talent. You may need to look at a bigger picture.

Resolution: It doesn't matter what your top producer is asking when you compare it to other 'visitor statistics'. Visitor stats have nothing to do with customer/user stats, Period. Trust me on this one. Just compare apples to apples. Someone is trying to delude you by giving you an inaccurate comparison value and asking you to support it. You should consider whether that person belongs in your company.

What you want is your site working for your paying customers, and all of them, 100%. If you get an issue with a new paying customer/user, resolve it immediately! Issues with non-paying users are trivial. Your visitors will invariably comprise a very low conversion rate when compared with your sales attrition stats, so the natural course is to develop fixes for the paying customers and let the visitors recieve the trickle-down benefits as they are developed, thus increasing your visitor conversion rate. That way you capitalize on new market penetration immediately, and you look more professional in the process. Your sales leader will always tell you where your best development efforts will be made profitable or they won't be the sales leader for very long.

Plainly, the way to go is to retain new customers by resolving each and every issue with your top producer. The leader is the one you want to watch for issues with your site, not the sales stragglers and finger pointers.

Put it another way: Your top producer is looking to penetrate a new market with special needs which you will have to code for and update on a regular basis. Assuming you've put the proper development protocols in place, you'll have the bug fixes done in 10% of the time it would take you otherwise and far in advance of your competition. Your sales leader is the leader because that person understands that it's a win-win situation all around. This person seems to be doing it right.

If you were to go with the law of averages/slowest mind wins scenario, the majority of your underproducing sales staff would align against your best talent in order to make themselves look good without expending any more effort than it takes to badmouth someone. Think about it. Someone asks you to give them a sharper machete in order to pave the way for everyone else in the safari and you're the one holding the whetstone, what do you do? You sharpen the leaders' knife and follow. Those grumbling behind you don't know where to go next, but they'll criticize anyone in charge because they're not competent enough to lead. It's a basic jealousy trick. Don't fall for it.

Best of luck to you. I hope you don't consider free advice worthless. I have seen companies succeed and fail by these principles, or their lack of adherance to them.

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something smells funny there...

by comsec1 In reply to Unreasonable user request

I have had this happen to me and the reasons that the person did not want IT personnel near his computer was because he had a.)unauthorized software and hardware on the computer, and b.)he had a bad habit of downloading unauthorized material. This was an extremely difficult situation for both the IT dept, the person at fault and the company in general as it brought bad press. The other side of this equasion was the fact that the user had been used as a tool by an attacker whose social engineering efforts were luckily stamped out due to the IT dept being very smart and using due diligence. It could have been worse than it was. We were lucky.

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Uh.. are you people reading the problem?

by David_Thomson In reply to Unreasonable user request

Um, the issue at hand is not a technical one. This is a face to face customer thing. The query was about whether the IT guy (NYCTO in this case) should attend a site visit with the Sales Guy and/or management.

As I mentioned earlier the issue is more perception based than anything else. I do not know who NYCTO works for and the capacity s/he may work in, but generally (and this a generalisation) IT guys are not good infront of a customer. I have led IT people before and as much as I believed in the technical capabilities of my guys, I would never put a programmer in front of a $10 client let alone a $10m client.

In the IT woreld we let a lot of personal habits through because of the skillset of the people, Sales folk and some management are still suit and tie people and therefore perceive (critical word perceive) professionalism with attire.

This issue (to me) is more perception based - as I mentioned in my earlier response, let this one go, but think on why the Sales Guy sisdn't want someone with him/her.

Good luck.

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problem resolution

by w1burd In reply to Unreasonable user request

Have the COO or DOS give you a call from the troubled PC. Walk them through some steps. Presents a team environment.

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Opportunity for improvement

by Info-Safety, LLC In reply to Unreasonable user request

Others have already pointed out why your company's rainmaker and management don't want IT people involved in the visit. If you were able to demonstrate that you were only interested in fixing the problem rather assigning blame, the situation could be quite different. As it stands, you have a difficult customer. Listen carefully to your most difficult customers. These are the ones that give you opportunities to improve.

Good luck.

Craig Herberg

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