Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Advertise on LowEndTalk.com
[Open Discussion] Responsibility in giving advice to clients
New on LowEndTalk? Please read our 'Community Rules' by clicking on it in the right menu!

[Open Discussion] Responsibility in giving advice to clients

WootWootWootWoot Member
edited March 17 in General

A client tells you that they will do x and that their very important goal is y. You recommend them to do z, instead of x. z is objectively twice better in achieving their goal y than x. However, to do z, a strict set of instructions must be followed or else the client will screw up. Screwing up will trigger a negative consequence for them, which has no benefit nor negative impact to you. Clear instructions are provided to the client to do z. You offer the client to do z for them, so that they do not have to face any risk. The possible consequence facing them, if they screw up, is explained. Although the risk to reward proposal is a non-sense, the client freely chooses to do z themselves, instead of asking you to do it. They ignore the instructions that were given to them, they screw up and, as a result, the consequence materializes. As the consequence materializes, the client first refutes that they screwed up and try to cover up their mistake. They will lie. They will play on words. As they are faced with overwhelming evidence of their mistake, the client begins to shift the responsibility of their mistake to you. The client argues that x is what they wanted to do, not z. You recommended z. It's your fault if they did z. Their goal, y, quickly disappears from the equation. As you try to enforce the consequence (as someone has to bear it), the client shifts more and more the responsibility and the consequence to you. They start by trying to have you assume half of the consequence and gradually increase their demand. Pushed to the utmost limit, the client begins to accuse you of manipulating them into doing z, of fabricating fail points, of desiring them to fail. You are a liar, a criminal.

This is the situation we were faced with twice in the past 2 days. 1 of them was exceptionally hard to get through.

I am giving technical advise to our clients to help them have the most out of their money. I expect this to translate to more solid business relationships. The lesson I'm taking out of this experience is that advice shouldn't be given to clients. At least not in our case and possibly not in many other cases. Facts should be objectively presented to the client : "x does this, in regards to your goal y, and z does this and carries that risk, now make your choice". The difference is very subtle, but, at least based on this limited experience, I would expect the client to more readily assume their responsibility if the notion of recommendation is never involved. Of course, we've given advice to clients for the past 9 years with mostly no mishap, but these bad experiences can be so hard to get through, that they may be worth broadly applying special measures. Also, of course, most of these special clients are probably so ill-intentioned that it wouldn't change anything.

What are your thoughts on the notion of responsibility when giving advice to a client?

Comments

  • FranciscoFrancisco Top Provider

    I recommend you learn how to format paragraphs.

    Good lord man.

    Francisco

    BuyVM - Free DirectAdmin, Softaculous, & Blesta! / Anycast Support! / Windows 2008, 2012, & 2016! / Unmetered Bandwidth!
    BuyShared - Shared & Reseller Hosting / cPanel + Softaculous + CloudLinux / Pure SSD! / Free Dedicated IP Address
  • WootWootWootWoot Member
    edited March 17

    @Francisco said:
    I recommend you learn how to format paragraphs.

    I know that LowEndTalk has more of a "Reddit" vibe to it, where people expect short and concise comments; where a "wall of text" will be entirely and immediately dismissed.

    My apologies for being so used to writing long papers.

    These 4 paragraphs are just enough.

    Note : To help, I removed a whole paragraph.

  • seriesnseriesn Member, Provider

    @WootWoot said:
    A client tells you that they will do x and that their very important goal is y. You recommend them to do z, instead of x. z is objectively twice better in achieving their goal y than x. However, to do z, a strict set of instructions must be followed or else the client will screw up. Screwing up will trigger a negative consequence for them, which has no benefit nor negative impact to you. Clear instructions are provided to the client to do z. You offer the client to do z for them, so that they do not have to face any risk. The possible consequence facing them, if they screw up, is explained. Although the risk to reward proposal is a non-sense, the client freely chooses to do z themselves, instead of asking you to do it. They ignore the instructions that were given to them, they screw up and, as a result, the consequence materializes. As the consequence materializes, the client first refutes that they screwed up and try to cover up their mistake. They will lie. They will play on words. As they are faced with overwhelming evidence of their mistake, the client begins to shift the responsibility of their mistake to you. The client argues that x is what they wanted to do, not z. You recommended z. It's your fault if they did z. Their goal, y, quickly disappears from the equation. As you try to enforce the consequence (as someone has to bear it), the client shifts more and more the responsibility and the consequence to you. They start by trying to have you assume half of the consequence and gradually increase their demand. Pushed to the utmost limit, the client begins to accuse you of manipulating them into doing z, of fabricating fail points, of desiring them to fail. You are a liar, a criminal.

    This is the situation we were faced with twice in the past 2 days. 1 of them was exceptionally hard to get through.

    It's in my nature to try to push and, for those I care most about, help people in doing what's best for them and their environment, based on evidence or thoughts that are as objective as they can be. I rapidly learned that people like to do what they think is best for them or simply what will bring them the most instant gratification, even though it is objectively bad for them. People can become very hostile the more you try to help them. I eventually learned to stop caring and I'm trying my best not to.

    I am giving technical advise to our clients to help them have the most out of their money. I expect this to translate to more solid business relationships. The lesson I'm taking out of this experience is that advice shouldn't be given to clients. At least not in our case and possibly not in many other cases. Facts should be objectively presented to the client : "x does this, in regards to your goal y, and z does this and carries that risk, now make your choice". The difference is very subtle, but, at least based on this limited experience, I would expect the client to more readily assume their responsibility if the notion of recommendation is never involved. Of course, we've given advice to clients for the past 9 years with mostly no mishap, but these bad experiences can be so hard to get through, that they may be worth broadly applying special measures. Also, of course, most of these special clients are probably so ill-intentioned that it wouldn't change anything.

    What are your thoughts on the notion of responsibility when giving advice to a client?

    Fully managed ?

    Thanked by 2uptime ViridWeb
  • @seriesn said:
    Fully managed ?

    This was meant to be an open discussion about the responsibility of a service provider / professional when giving advice to clients. More specifically in the context of web hosting. One can argue that there are ethical issues at play. The example I gave was used to introduce the discussion. In our specific case, the services are not managed.

  • seriesnseriesn Member, Provider

    @WootWoot said:

    @seriesn said:
    Fully managed ?

    This was meant to be an open discussion about the responsibility of a service provider / professional when giving advice to clients. More specifically in the context of web hosting. One can argue that there are ethical issues at play. The example I gave was used to introduce the discussion. In our specific case, the services are not managed.

    If that is the case, if client was aggressive, I would limit my answer to, “Hi, this service is self managed. I am really sorry to hear that you are having issue. Unfortunately, we do not cover xyz with the plan your have signed up for.

    Here is a link to our management option/admin hours etc and this is what is covered.

    If you are within your refund period and are not satisfied with your service, We are extremely sorry to hear that and do apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused your. We would be happy to process the refund if that is what you are interested “.

    Some customers are not fighting for, if they are being rude/prudent.

    I treat my customers like a king. As long as they show me basic human courtesy. For nice customers/family members, I have went above and beyond multiple time and will continue to do so. Which will be the polar opposite for someone, who behaves in a disruptive and abusive manner. Remain professional and offer them a solution that is worth your time and theirs.

    Some customers might come off rude due to language barriers, I would give everyone the benefit of the doubts. But after couple of back and forth, you will know if you and your customers are good fit for each other’s need and requirements. If not, it is not a battle worth fighting.

    Thanked by 3ViridWeb dz_paji alento
  • nemnem Member, Provider

    Adopt a few basic doctrines:

    • Firm but fair. You have a business obligation not a friendship role to these clients. Do what is necessary and expected in your role as a provider.
    • Charge your time. For tasks outside the typical scope of work, and that carry inconsequential outcomes, offer guidance. For complex tasks outside your typical service agreement, charge a consulting fee. The more complex something is the more liable one is to screw it up.
    • You can’t fix stupid. Certain folks are interminable idiots and it’s best to wash your hands of them. Don’t worry too much about the timing of these events.
  • perennateperennate Member, Provider
    edited March 17

    Is this about messing something up on disk? If so, the advice should begin with "take a snapshot of your VM first as a backup". If the advice clearly recommends that, and the client neglects it, then it's easy enough to respond to their blame. Or if you're really worried that a client will fail to take a backup and end up breaking their VM, then if you want you could always take a backup for them.

    Otherwise maybe you should clarify what "consequence" you're talking about.

Sign In or Register to comment.