Earlier this week, I told you about Lester, an ACT consultant we hired back in September who didn’t comprehend how important it was to think strategically and be responsive to clients’ needs. I promised that I would tell you what happened recently that reminded me once again of Lester – this time my experience with another ACT consultant, let’s call him Colbert.
About two weeks ago, my business manager Paulene got a new desktop computer that created unexpected problems with our ACT system. Given that this was something that went beyond our everyday troubleshooting capabilities, we needed to hire an ACT consultant again! Clearly though, given our past experience, it was not going to be Lester! Since time was of the essence, after some quick research over the Internet, we hired Colbert. My conversation with him was almost identical to the one I had with Lester about six months ago – we needed a one-time installation with enough knowledge transfer so that we could handle routine issues on our own; my goal was for this to be the start of a long-term relationship so that we could go to Colbert as our resource person when we had out-of-the-ordinary ACT issues in the future. We came to agreement and the work was scheduled for the following Wednesday. On Monday, two days before the work was to be done, I received an email invoice from Colbert asking for pre-payment, either by credit card or by cheque. That evening, I issued and mailed a cheque, letting Colbert know by return email that the “cheque was in the mail.” The next morning, when I got to my office, there was a reply waiting for me in my in-basket. Colbert was cancelling the planned work until he received the cheque. A little shocked (the invoice was less than $300), I called him. He was clearly in a bad mood when I called (not sure why), and the conversation went downhill in less than 30 seconds.
“I’m not doing any work until I get paid,” he said.
“The cheque went out last night, it should arrive by the end of this week,” I responded.
“The only way I’ll do it is if you give me a credit card number right now.”
“I’d prefer not to, you gave me the option to pay by either cheque or credit card, and cheques are easier to track in our accounting system.”
“Clearly you don’t understand the concept of prepayment,” he replied rudely.
Nonplussed, I paused. Taking a deep breath, I tried again.
“Seriously? You’re going to hold everything up for an amount this small? We were counting on having the work done tomorrow. If we’re going to have a long-term relationship with one another, our level of trust has to go beyond $300.”
“Well then maybe we should end this relationship right now.”
I barely got out an “okay” as the phone slammed down loudly in my ear.
So there I was … left in the lurch, one day before we hoped to have resolved our problems and be up and fully running! Once again, someone else who simply didn’t “get” that thinking strategically and being responsive to your client’s needs are a precursor to success in business and leadership!
So I’ve got to ask again – what has been your experience? Do you agree with me, or do you think Colbert’s behaviour and actions were justified? I’d love to know your thoughts – add a comment below.
So did Paulene ever get her ACT system up and running? The answer in next Monday’s blog post!