Another Business Lesson
Another consulting story from experience.
Before my other business lesson, I was asked to help out with some computer troubleshooting at a major medical billing facility. This facility had around 4-5 people running the billing exclusively for the hospital.
One day, they had some issues with the network and had to call someone in. I was not available at the time. The "network specialist" came in around 10:00 and started to diagnose the problem.
I arrived later and asked my contact who he was. She told me that something happened with the network and we needed it working immediately. Both of us had an understanding of what needed to be done.
My first impression of this network specialist? He was not very impressionable. :-)
According to my contact (translation: boss), he arrived wearing jeans (but a nice shirt) and sneakers. He said he's been around in the business and would diagnose the problem and come up with a solution.
A couple of hours went by and we started wondering when the network would be up and running.
We went in search of the specialist and found him under a desk attaching Ethernet cables into the server. There were additional cables strewn about on the floor next to him. I assume he was getting a little aggravated with the system, because he was a little short at the time (and I don't mean height-wise).
My contact was not technologically savvy, but she knew enough and was eager to learn more about how these issues could be resolved quicker so future problems can be averted.
She looked at me and asked a very legitimate question.
"Does this cable go into the server?"
The specialist was under the table fixing the server and did not realize that my contact was talking to me. He pulled himself out from under the table, looked up at her and said in one breath:
"No, that cable does not plug into the server, it plugs into the router. What? Are you stupid?"
System shock hit me! Not the kind of shock of looking at a price tag on a new car in a sales lot, but the shock you receive because someone says something so unprofessional that it will jeopardize his/her career.
This man should've realized three things:
- This contact knows a LOT of people in the medical field. The people in the medical field know even more people in the medical field. Word WILL get around about this person's behavior and it may take a while for this person to regain footing in his career as a professional.
- This "specialist" needed some assistance after a while and had to make a call to the office to find out how something worked.
- Based on his comment, I guess he didn't realize we were on the fourth floor of a professional building, because at that point, I think my boss was going to throw him out the window.
After that comment left his mouth, I looked over at my contact and watched as she started turning very red with anger (me: "Well, is it time for lunch? I better be going.")
As I was leaving for lunch and for the day, I heard my contact say to him, "If you don't get this finished by 1:00, pack up your gear and leave immediately, and we may pay you for your time."
A true professional will show his mettle by staying calm and answering any questions the client may have. Now, you will have a time when users hit you with a barrage of questions without letting up, but resorting to insulting the client is one level that no professional should lower themselves to, no matter what the situation.
If you insult your client, you are insulting your career in the process.
Another business lesson that has been burnt into my head. Thank you experience.
Jonathan Danylko is a freelance web architect and avid programmer who has been programming for over 20 years. He has developed various systems in numerous industries including e-commerce, biotechnology, real estate, health, insurance, and utility companies.
When asked what he likes doing in his spare time, he answers..."programming."
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