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    21 Replies Latest reply on Aug 11, 2008 5:14 PM by crsw_85301

    Can Professional Services offer a guarantee?

    MYOB08 Adventurer
      I would like to offer a guarantee.

      Do you think people offering professional services can offer a guarantee?


      Should there be restrictions on it?


      I charge $100 per hour, and in December a long term client called me out for two full days. The bill ended up being $1250. The client has some serious problems with their IT system, but I assist them with their accounting package which runs on their IT system, so everything I do is VERY slow. But I tell them this and it falls on deaf ears.


      It is February, and they are saying they are not paying because I did not do enough when I was there. When I was there they expressed no dissatisfaction.


      How do I offer a guarantee without it getting abused?
        • Re: Can Professional Services offer a guarantee?
          LUCKIEST Guide
          Can Professional Services offer a guarantee. YES
          However, even if you offer a guarantee, how would that have helped
          with the client you billed $1250. What would you have guaranteed??
          Am I missing something here.
          *H & R Block does incomes taxes. Are they a *professional services.
          They offer a guarantee.
            • Re: Can Professional Services offer a guarantee?
              MYOB08 Adventurer
              I guess I want to guarantee customer satisfaction - but how do I limit that being abused?

              I ask them to sign an agreement up front which outlines my fee structure - $100 per hour - very simple.

              I find that I am with the client they always seem happy with the service offered.

              A small majority then - happy with the job - but then complain about the bill.

              As many clients because of the nature of the work, I may only see 3 times, how can I protect my self from offering a guarantee but not being abused?
            • Re: Can Professional Services offer a guarantee?
              bigdaddy02817 Newbie
              Hi MYOB08,

              The answer is yes and here's how you do it so you don't get burnt. Establish upfront with the client what it would take for him/her to be totally satisfied with your performance. You will have to come up with things that you have control of and not things like sales. You might do a great job and sales may not improve because the product stinks. So, don't tie your performance to things that are out side of your control. Write it up in a contract and make him sign it. that's the only way I can see that type of guarantee working.
              1 of 1 people found this helpful
              • Re: Can Professional Services offer a guarantee?
                DomainDiva Ranger
                I have been consulting for 14 years. I have never offered a 'customer satisfaction guarantee'. I have always made it clear that XXXXX is my daily rate, and I expeect XXXXX X # of days + whatever expenses to be paid within X # of days. I have had only two clients that did not abide by that agreement and I have never done work for them again. My business has not suffered. Stop trying to be nice. Be a business person.

                Drop the ones that whine about the amount billed even when they knew what the rate was up front. There will always be those (like me ;) ) who love their accountants and lawyers and make sure they get paid.
                • Re: Can Professional Services offer a guarantee?
                  Hi - Hmmm can professional services offer a guarantee? To be honest, I would say no. I mean what can you really guarantee? I have my own marketing company but I cant guarantee anything 100% - it depends on each campaign, budget, the product - all sorts of variables, many of which are out of my control. But I should still get paid for the work I've completed shouldnt I? I may have spent many hours working with a client and it has not eventuated as planned, don't I deserve some payment for my professional service time spent? I don't offer any guarantee but I do promote my company as results driven and we are. We do hold ourselves accountable to our clients and our services are underpinned by professional, relevant experience and university marketing/media degrees. On this basis we provide our professional services, we minimise the risk for the client but there are no guarantees.

                  Hope this helps.
                    • Re: Can Professional Services offer a guarantee?
                      Iwrite Pioneer
                      You have gotten some great answers.

                      There seems to be a problem between the amount of time it takes to get a job done and the perception by the client as to how long this job should take.

                      The best way to reconcile this is an up front estimate of the hours the job will take and the total costs for that time. Include an explanation that if the job requires more time, the client will be made aware of this before any more additional work will be done. And that the additional time will be billed at your rate. Have the client read and sign this before any work starts. This along with the other suggestions may help.

                      But I would not guarantee things.
                        • Re: Can Professional Services offer a guarantee?
                          FCPainter Adventurer
                          I agree. In our business, housepainting, we can offer a guarantee that hte job will last and then it's pretty objective as to whether it did or not. we can offer an on-time guarantee and we either finish or not. the one thing that we do that you might be able to version for yoru business is that we guarantee that they'll rate us over a 90 percent on a cusotmer survey. You then build a survey that you share with them during the selling process. It lays out the items that a cusotmer would typically care about. Then, you get them to agree what is important to them, and make any changes to the questions that need to be made. Then every day or two during the job you review how you are doing against the survey, collect it at the end. It's also nice when you sell in the future because you show new customers all the surveys that were completed and how you delighted your cusotmers (e.g. sell on value, not just price or vague senses of what will please them. the lesson - try to make your guarantee very specific to the customers' key needs or concerns and as concrete as possible
                      • Re: Can Professional Services offer a guarantee?
                        elpelp Newbie
                        I don't get what you mean guarantee. You were basically outside contractor/project mgmt. I think moving forward you should consider getting paid along the way vs. at the end. It sounds like this company is going to force you to threaten to sue for the money they owe you. Here's a good website that provides some good educational content for business owners and employees, etc.
                        • Re: Can Professional Services offer a guarantee?
                          Archangel Adventurer
                          I've been in the IT biz a long time. I've been a corporate IT guy and have done what you do as well. I charge a lot more than you do, or at least I did when I was in the consulting biz, and I did offer a guarantee. I think you touched on the answer you're looking for but didn't realize it. When you sign your contract with your customer you need to make sure they understand the difference between a technical problem and a training problem. I know all too well how touchy an issue the "chair to keyboard interface" problem can be, but you're going to have nothing but trouble if you can't deal with it properly. Here's what I do. First, I explain everything I'm going to do to the customer, then have them sign off on it. Then, when the work is complete I have them verfiy it and sign off again that the work they expected to be done, is done. If you then get the call you had, and it is inevitable, about the system not being fixed, you can go back to the paperwork and show that A: it was done and they signed off on it, and B: there is another problem here not being addressed. At the end of the day it is, of course, a customer service issue. The problem is, in our business sometimes the customer, or one of their employees, is the problem. If it is the customer, and you foresee this kind of thing continuing to happen you might have to consider dropping that customer. I know that's pretty harsh, but trouble is what it is, and that kind of trouble you can't afford. If it is one of their employees then it is a management problem, not your problem. You just have to make sure you are very delicate in the way you communicate that to the customer. Just don't let yourself get into the position of being management's solution to their HR problem. Again, that's nothing but trouble you can't afford.

                          Another thing to consider is what kind of guarantee you offer. I don't offer a "satisfaction" guarantee. Why? Because when they signed the work order that the job was completed they've already stipulated their satisfaction. No, what I offer is a limited guarantee that basically says if the problem happens again I'll find out and make sure they know why. This is where integrity comes in. If the problem really WAS your fault, you need to step up and deal with it on that basis. If not, you need to give the customer a fair and honest assesment and present them with some kind of solution, be it training or what have you. It can be a tough thing to do, but my experience has shown me that once a customer starts in with this kind of thing, he'll keep doing it as long as you let him. I know that sucks, but it's a stone cold fact.

                          • Re: Can Professional Services offer a guarantee?

                            Make the guarantee compelling.

                            For example, if you believe that you you bring value greater than the $1,250 fee, show the (potential client) that you believe in the value of your contribution to the profitability of his business and offer a (for example) triple your money back if you are satisfied with the results of the services you provide.

                            And if you **really** believe in your value, offer to the the $3,750 in a trust fund that the potential client can claim.