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  1. #1

    How to handle needy clueless clients?

    Hello all,

    I have a client that has no idea what he is doing with his website, and has now decided to try his hand at web hosting. He bought a reseller package from me and has setup his website, somewhat. The problem is, he is constantly coming to my live chat and asking me questions about how to install PHP-Nuke, or how does he link his billing system to his website. He comes to my live chat at least 2 -3 times a day, and each chat usually lasts about an hour. I have told him repeatedly that the live chat is not to be used for casual chatting, and that I cannot/do not support 3rd party scripts. I have also explained to him that I am not a web design instructor, and will not design his website for free. But he still continues to abuse the live chat.

    What do you guys do in these situations? So far I have been very polite and answered all his questions the best I could without crossing the line between what I will and will not support. He just doesn't seem to get the picture!

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    435
    That sounds like a nightmare. It's customers like this that make you NOT want to be in the business we are in. The only real solution to this that I can think of, is to charge for support. First off, if it's possible with your software, I would block this person from your live chat. Next, I would tell him/her straight out that if they wish to continue with this level of support, it will cost them $30/Hr in advance (or some fee you agree on). After that if they still want to pay, that's fine but at least you are getting something in return for all the time you are spending.

    This should be a good discussion as more input comes in from others.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    193
    In such a persistant situation, I would agree to help the client, but invoice them for your time.

    Eg: Client asks for help with setting up billing software, you reply with "I'd be happy to help with this. As it is a service that isn't included in your hosting package, there will be a charge of $x.xx/hour applied to your account".

    Name your price.

  4. #4
    Both good ideas, thank you both!

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by build-a-host View Post
    Hello all,

    I have told him repeatedly that the live chat is not to be used for casual chatting, and that I cannot/do not support 3rd party scripts. I have also explained to him that I am not a web design instructor, and will not design his website for free.
    Have you mentioned such things to your client? If no then tell him once again and then if he does not understand - start charging him for the work you do!

    We had some of the clients like that and they made us suffer a lot for first 1 year or so...

    90% off those clients stopped asking for "needless" help when we sent them invoices for the work we did for them and 10% gladly paid those invoices and are constantly in touch for all of their work!
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  6. #6
    Sounds like everyone is on the same page with the charging for extra support idea, so I think I will go ahead and write something up to add to my TOS to reflect the extended support.

    Thanks guys!

  7. #7
    Hello,

    I would suggest starting something like "Professional Services" and listing these under this. This way the client sees that the help he needs is under the professional services category and that he has to pay for it. This stuff does not come under hosting tech support.

    By the way, if you are spending your time doing web design for your clients then you are falling behind in the web host race. I would suggest that you get a web developer and forward all "Professional Services" work to him. Of course you arrange a rate with him, and you can charge your clients few bucks extra, making a profit. You can get them from various countries for a decent rate.

    This way, both you and the client win!
    Web Hosting is not a business for me, it's a hobby!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    1,398
    That would depend really IF you had the time to do such services. I had a few problems in the past and it really took up a lot of time but now I clearly state my support policies and make sure my terms are accessible from all pages.

    I guess if you had the time to do that service charging hourly support would be a good idea. If not try to minimize the possibility of future clients who may be this way. It can be a touchy thing to have to tell clients you cant help them with such and such but sometimes it just has to be done

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    3,854
    Just keep telling him that software configuration is beyond the scope of your support and if he requires such assistance, he will be billed for it at $xx.xx per hour.

    I agree with others, update your ToS to reflect this.
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    93
    yeah, mention it clearly in your website that 3rd party scripts aren't supported and that there are easy to use installers like Fantastico/Installtron available for those who do not know how to do things by themselves. If any 3rd party support is available, offer it for a charge. A win-win situation for both

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by EastCoast View Post
    yeah, mention it clearly in your website that 3rd party scripts aren't supported and that there are easy to use installers like Fantastico/Installtron available for those who do not know how to do things by themselves. If any 3rd party support is available, offer it for a charge. A win-win situation for both
    thats exactly what I said
    Web Hosting is not a business for me, it's a hobby!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Hong Kong
    Posts
    1,248
    This happens often when you serve local clients, we had one literally harassing us for weeks (IM, support tickets, email, office phone, mobile phone, you name it), until we redirected him to a web designer to handle his site design work.
    Last edited by cycomhk; 02-25-2008 at 08:01 AM.
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  13. #13
    I think that all web hosts should have web design services as part of their site, because otherwise this will happen. And you dont have to be a huge hosting company to offer this, you can forward these projects to web developers who dont cost much
    Web Hosting is not a business for me, it's a hobby!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Washington, USA
    Posts
    3,219
    We've all been there and it's not fun

    Just tell him that you do not provide such comprehensive management services and that he may purchase design/coding services for $___ per hour.
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  15. #15
    Great suggestions guys, thanks. The suggestion about getting a developer to forward the work to sounds good. Do any of you do this, and if so, what company or person do you use for your developing?

    Thanks!

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    1,014
    If he isnt worth the money and wont listen to you, then fire him. There is nothing wrong with firing customers. Its a relationship between the customer and the business, when your need for his money outways his need for your service, then get rid of him or charge him more.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Indiana, USA
    Posts
    16,087
    I have a few friends I have known for a long time that all do very good design work, I usually pass clients that want design on to those individuals under my name (as I know them very well)

    Basically I bill the customer, and then pay the designer.

    It's worked out nicely so far.
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  18. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2000
    Location
    New Jersey
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    389
    I disagree with firing customers, no matter how needy they are. If they are constantly late on payments then that is another story. Charging for support is probably the best idea, but it will be a shock to them at first if you have been helping in the past then suddenly change. Try to make them understand the scope of the support better first. As for those needy customers looking back I've found some of them have gone from being needy to being my largest customers.
    John Quaglieri - InterServer, Inc

  19. #19
    Customers like that are exactly the reason why I got out of the web hosting business. They assume that you are just sitting around waiting to respond to their every question and offer free nonstop hours of support for $4 dollars per month hosting.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    435
    Quote Originally Posted by lexington View Post
    Customers like that are exactly the reason why I got out of the web hosting business. They assume that you are just sitting around waiting to respond to their every question and offer free nonstop hours of support for $4 dollars per month hosting.
    Personally, I think the idea of free 24/7 support is silly. But what can you do when you have so many losers in this business who sell TB's worth of storage and bandwidth for peanuts, and throw in free support. Everyone is forced to lower prices and compete because consumer Joe is too much of a tight wad to pay higher prices.

    For example look at these guys (voted #1 most popular web hosting company on webhostingstuff.com)
    http://www.webhostingpad.com/


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