To Achieve Success, Protect Your Client Relationships

Yesterday I spent about 2 hours in the accounts section of a medium sized hospital client company (in Ikeja, Lagos), who have been using my Excel-VB Driven Payslip Generator since April 2007.

They had called me while I was in Cotonou about 3 weeks ago

The app, according to the department head, was giving negative NET PAY values, when they tried generating Personal Income Tax Summaries from the 2013 data.

That information was needed by the auditors who were visiting.

I asked them to send me a copy of the workbook app, but someone inadvertently sent me the PDF printouts generated from the app.

Despite my best efforts, I was unable to get a clear idea of what they meant.

Eventually, we agreed that they go back and use their old manual Excel workbooks, to prepare at least the January and February records for the auditors.

I promised to stop over whenever I came into the country to help resolve the problem, so they could finish off the summaries for the remaining 10 months of 2013.

They asked when that was likely to be.

I told them that having just returned from another visit to attend my father’s 80th birthday anniversary celebration, I did not expect to come down for at least another month or two.

I was not to know I would get consecutive requests from farm CEO clients, for access to learning resources on Feed Formulation!

Neither did I imagine that those requests would result in my offering a workshop event that some would promptly send payment in for!

Anyway, I had to come in to Lagos on Saturday night, so as to check hotel room rates on behalf of a prospective attendee who’d sent his payment.

My plan had been to return on Sunday evening.

This was so I could complete preparation of a pack of my printed handbook and CDROMs containing my Ration Formulator, video demos, the PDF handbook and other e-books. They were to be sent by DHL to a Farm CEO in Uyo, who had sent in payment for that purpose.

But a lot of unexpected developments ended up making me stay on till today, Tuesday.

One of them was my discovery that the small generator used by my family in my home in Lagos, was due for servicing. It worked, but not very well. I realized if I did not get that done, it would stop working in a week or two.

But going around for two hours on Sunday turned out to be a waste of time.

None of the generator mechanics was open for business. Who could blame them? Everyone needs a rest!

So, we managed to use the generator again for the day. Then on Monday (i.e. yesterday) morning, I had it dropped off at the mechanic’s place.

Having done that, my plan was to visit the ATM to cash some money, then pick up the generator (usually takes 30 minutes to an hour for servicing to be done on it) and drop it off at the house, so I could be on my way back to Cotonou.

But that was not to be.

The ATM I used at Zenith bank’s branch at Berger took my card, asked me all the right questions, then made some noises and ejected the card without giving me the N5,000 cash I’d asked for.

Puzzled, I put my card back in and checked my balance, only to find that it was less by N5, 000!

That was a first for me.

It was apparently a common occurrence however, because when I called one of the guards outside the bank, he simply asked me to relax.

“The money will soon  be credited back to your account. But just to be safe, I suggest you get to the branch your account is domiciled and lodge a formal complaint” he confidently assured me.

So, I went down to Allen Avenue and there I was assured the guard was right.

“Don’t worry, the money will be back in 24 hours.” the lady at the Customer Service section told me.

In the meantime, I took the cash I needed from the banking hall and left.

Just as I got out, I remembered my promise to the hospital client. They were located just about a 10 minute walk from where I was.

Recalling how important the tax summaries were to them, I knew I had to show up.

So I did. And they were thrilled. For 2 hours we worked on the problem while sharing jokes and discussing current affairs e.g the recent fuel scarcity crisis.

Eventually we discovered an expense column inadvertently hidden, with entries, caused the negative NET PAY values.

While I was there, anyone not familiar with our relationship would have assumed I also worked in that department.

The best part is the Accountant who first hired me to develop the app in 2007, left to start his own consultancy few months back. Yet the other team members still relate normally with me.

For both parties it’s always been a win-win.

My point? Our relationship is a very close one, in which both parties relate to one another with mutual respect and consideration.

And that’s why it’s lasted this long: all of 7 years. Other clients who failed to allow a similar relationship to be forged, left me no option but to tactfully withdraw!

After I left the hospital, the thought popped into my head that the ATM incident which forced me to come all the way down to Allen Avenue, instead of zooming off to the border as I’d planned, was indeed a blessing in disguise!

That was not all.

About an hour later, the CD/DVD writer drive on my laptop failed to work, when I tried burning CDs to send with the handbook via DHL to the buyer in Uyo (I’d seen a DHL office at Allen avenue and decided to sent the pack from there).

Once again, the thought occurred to me that my inability to leave due to the ATM glitch, had indeed been a blessing in disguise.

If I’d already returned to Cotonou, I would have had to return to Nigeria’s computer village in Ikeja, to replace it…because the few computer shops in Cotonou that I’ve been to tell me they get their supplies by travelling down to Nigeria.

And I’ve found that apart from a better price, and quality, we have more skilled and knowledgeable PC repair chaps in Nigeria, than in Cotonou.

So yesterday, at around 7p.m I got the drive replaced with a new one, and endured 2 hours of traffic hold up to get home by 9p.m.

Then I sent a phone text message to the Farm CEO in Uyo telling him what had happened, and that I would send the package from DHL this morning.

I did the above to keep him in the loop, by letting him know what progress I’m making with regard to fulfilling the order.

Lastly, before I left Lagos, I picked up the generator from the mechanic, and tested it at the house, for my people to use.

Then, having freed myself from worrying that I left anything undone, I travelled back to Cotonou, and made my way to a cafe at 10.20p.m.

That’s where I’m typing these words right now :-))

Final Words: No Matter What Goes Wrong, NEVER Let Your Clients (Relationships) Suffer

My message in this article is that quite often what appear to be bad experiences usually have some useful benefit accompanying them.

But one will only discover those benefits if s/he CALMS down, does NOT fret or worry or panic, and strives to make progress in spite of the adversity.

That’s what I’ve learnt to do over the years, and it has very often led me to achieve multiple instances of success, by using my difficulties as stepping stones.

I apply this philosophy without fail in handling all my affairs with my clients, and business associates.

No one wants to hear excuses or listen to complaints. When people engage you to do a paid job for them, they expect to get value for their money, And they expect you to be forthright with them. No sharp practices, no stories.

One example: The Farm CEO in Uyo that I mentioned above, paid N10,000 to have me send him the package via DHL from Cotonou.

However, due to the problem that made me stay back in Lagos longer than I planned, I decided to prepare the pack and send it from DHL’s office in Allen Avenue. This was so as not to lose time and delay delivery to his farm and resort premises in Uyo.

By the time the package was weighed and the fee applied, I only had to pay appoximately N4,000.

So, that meant the buyer had a N6,000 balance remaining from the N10,000 he’d sent me for use as courier fee.

I promptly sent him a message stating the foregoing, and that I will call him to find out how to get the money back to him.

That is the right and sensible thing to do. And it can only inspire more trust and confidence in you, in the mind of your client.

You can do the same. Keep a positive mindset always, no matter what happens to you. And always deal with integrity with your clients.

They will reward you with more business, and even referalls, for doing so.

I’m living proof that this is so!

[IMPORTANT: This blog's contents are being updated following the transfer to www.tayosolagbade.com from my former domain - Spontaneousdevelopment.com. As a result, some parts of it may not work properly for now. Quick Tip: If a link contains "spontaneousdevelopment.com", simply change it to "tayosolagbade.com" - and it should work. This applies to article links as well as image links. Work continues to update the links(in over 500 articles). Tayo K. Solagbade.]

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Tayo K. Solagbade*
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Excel-VB Driven Ration Formulator

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