Second surgery clients

Over the last 12 months, a new phrase has entered the office vocabulary – “second surgery clients”. Karolina and myself met with a business mentor of ours, who was trying to understand of clients, how they had approached us, or we were gaining a reputation for … and we described the client breakdown. We realised a large, and growing percentage of clients we now take care of have come from other suppliers and been disappointed.

What do we mean by “second surgery clients” ?

Pretty simple – as with a surgeon, they have been operated on, and things have gone awry. They are now coming to us to be fixed up, taken care of, and put back on track.

What are the characteristics of a “second surgery client”, particularly in relation to Magento and ecommerce?

They are a little apathetic around what Magento can and cannot do – many suppliers have REMOVED core functionality, badly, either on the front-end website or Magento admin back-end.

It takes time to earn trust. If they’ve been badly burnt, our words and commitment will take us so far, but the client approach is normally very cautious at first – a very small piece of corrective work from us, and normally referrals from other clients to see how our build and more importantly our ongoing support works

We have to reset expectations. The new client to us remembers how CHEAP perhaps a previous supplier was, or how FAST they delivered, but forget that it took five attempts to get something working, or that in the long run, they paid a fortune for something reversing and re-implementing.

They micro-manage at first.  Comes back to the trust.  Can they really count on us to get a piece of work right first time? Can they expect it to go live when we said? What about how we’re going to build it because last time … etc.

They expect CHEAP.  This is a tough but very honest one to write about. There are plenty Magento agencies out there, from one man bands to huge multi-nationals. Choose one that’s suitable to your needs.  If that’s a one man band with < 6 months experience and one site under their belt, then perfect. But don’t put the fees expectations on every agency you approach. Sometimes, you really do get what you pay for.  And quality, experience, competence doesn’t mean cheap.

They expect FAST.  In a similar vain to the “cheap” characteristic above. When delivering anything software-related there’s pretty much a simple flow – identify/understand -> scope/plan -> develop -> test -> deploy. And the more advanced a Magento agency is, the more they’ll normally increase the competency and skills of each person delivering those stages – so a one man band will do it all themselves … and the largest will have a separate testing team who ONLY do testing all day and nothing else .. and everything inbetween. And that takes time to manage.

How do we handle second surgery clients?

Well, first we understand the above. We listen carefully and compassionately and work out quite quickly if we want to partner with a client and are suited to help them. We are very honest – some clients just don’t suit us and we may pass them over to another smaller supplier that we know and trust well, or a much larger supplier who would fulfil a specific requirement for the client.

We find out what are the CONCERNS of the client.  Behind a rushed irritated phone call from a client is probably a concern of worry and risk we may not deliver – only because that’s what they’re used to. So address the concern head on. If a client tries to micro-manage, then behind that is a concern that we won’t deliver – so what structure would work for them? Perhaps morning update emails, or weekly phone calls, or weekly face to face meets? Or perhaps meet the team for a beer that are working on your project?

And the rest … well, the rest is the way we handle all our clients.  Individually.  Emphatically.  Transparently.  And with the utmost respect and interest in what they’re up to.