The phone rang indicating an unknown number. As is my practice, I ignored the call. If it was important, the caller would most likely leave a voicemail message. Indeed, there was a message.
Upon listening to the message, I realized it was yet another similar request starting with, “I got your name from ________ , who indicated that you could help me with my computer, mobile phone, Internet, etc.”
Before taking on a new client, it is important to determine in advance whether or not I can help them. The following is the process I follow:
– Return the phone call and discuss the client’s needs. If I could not help them, I didn’t want to waste their time or money.
– If we jointly determine to move forward, before setting up a meeting, I discuss my fees and ask them to compose a list of topics they are interested in addressing.
– At our first meeting, we discuss their needs and set priorities.
– I evaluate if their existing equipment supports their needs. Perhaps simple upgrades/maintenance is necessary. If not, I recommend and assist in ordering and installing a new computer, mobile phone, etc.
Once we are ready to tackle the prioritized list of projects, we discuss my rules:
– Initially, each meeting lasts only one hour. I have found my clients tend to feel overloaded after an hour.
– Only one topic will be discussed per session.
– The client should have a separate notebook and take their own notes.
– Once I have demonstrated a task, its up to the the client to take over and practice with my supervision.
– If follow-up meetings are scheduled, we first review the work of the previous meeting to make sure that there are no questions before proceeding with a new task.
– I indicate that I am available via phone or e-mail to answer questions between meetings at no charge.
I do not prepare notes or work with a standard list of recommended equipment. I often meet many people in the course of a day and personalize their hardware and software to fit their needs.