4.7 Given a scenario, use proper communication techniques and professionalism.

  • Professional appearance and attire
    • Match the required attire of the given environment
      • Formal
      • Business Casual
  • Use proper language and avoid jargon, acronyms, and slang, when applicable
  • Maintain a positive attitude/ project confidence
  • Actively listen, take notes, and avoid interrupting the customer
  • Be culturally sensitive
    • Use appropriate professional titles, when applicable
  • Be on time (if late, contact the customer)
  • Avoid distractions
    • Personal calls
    • Texting/social media sites
    • Personal interruptions
  • Dealing with difficult customers or situations
    • Do not argue with customers or be defensive
    • Avoid dismissing customer problems
    • Avoid being judgmental
    • Clarify customer statements (ask open-ended questions to narrow the scope of the problem, restate the issue, or question to verify understanding)
    • Do not disclose experiences via social media outlets
  • Set and meet expectations/timeline and communicate status with the customer
    • Offer different repair/ replacement options, as needed
    • Provide proper documentation on the services provided
    • Follow up with customer/user at a later date to verify satisfaction
  • Deal appropriately with customers’ confidential and private materials
    • Located on a computer, desktop, printer, etc.

How to deal with customers

This probably the most important part of the book.  When a new client hires an IT professional, they are a bit (or a lot) nervous.  They are trusting their sensitive data and the heart of their business to somebody they just met.  Think about how many security breaches have taken place this year.  Think about how many businesses failed because IT failed.

Your new customer doesn’t know anything about IT.  You probably don’t know that much about IT either, which is why you’re reading this book.  But their IT is probably a mess, and they are looking for somebody to save the day.  You must look like you know what you’re doing.  Confidence is everything.  You can figure everything else out later.

Maintain a professional appearance.  It is embarrassing but I have to say this.

  • Dress a little bit better than everybody else.  Dress like the job you want to have, not the job you currently have.  If you’re dressed well, people will give you more respect and more opportunities.

  • You should be well groomed and smell nice.

  • You should take a shower every morning.

  • If you’re fat, you should go to the gym

  • Your clothes should fit well, be ironed, and free of holes and stains

  • There are many YouTube videos that have great suggestions about how to dress

You only have one chance to make a first impression.  People are going to judge you if you’re fat or if you look like you just rolled out of bed.  That is reality.

Some tips for dealing with customers

  • Remember that end users are not experienced with technology.  That’s why they hired you.

  • When the technology breaks, the end user will be frustrated because the problem is affecting their personal life or their business.  A large business can lose millions of dollars per hour.  You need to understand the situation from their perspective.

  • Treat the customer the way you want to be treated.  Explain the situation to them but do so at their level.

  • Be positive and project confidence.  If you panic, the customer will panic.  Do not panic.  Appearance is everything.

  • Listen to the customer.  The customer has many clues about what went wrong.  The customer doesn’t understand technology, but they do know how things looked like or how they worked before they broke.  Their observations can give you many clues.

  • Be culturally sensitive.  The customer may have an ego, or a title such as “Dr., Mr. etc.”. 

  • Be on time.  People are busy.  Call ahead of time if you will be late.  Call to confirm your appointment before you go to site.

  • Don’t interrupt by using your phone or making personal calls, especially with older people.  When somebody is talking to you, give them your full attention.

  • After the customer is done talking, paraphrase what they said to confirm that you didn’t misinterpret what they told you.

  • Ask follow up questions to gather more information.

  • Don’t make small talk.  Your relationship with the customer should be strictly professional. 

How to deal with difficult customers

  • Don’t argue with the customer

  • Don’t dismiss the customer’s problems

  • Don’t gossip about the customer on the internet

  • Don’t post photos of the customer’s office or equipment on social media

  • Don’t judge or be condescending

Set Expectations

You should set clear expectations with the customer before attempting to fix the problem.

  • Can the problem be fixed?  If the customer has trouble installing a software program, it can probably be fixed.  If the computer caught fire and there was no back up, it is probably unlikely that you will recover the data.  Don’t over promise and under deliver.  Give them the worst-case scenario.

    Do you have the experience to solve the problem?  If you don’t, you should call an expert or refer the customer to somebody who understands it better than you.
  • If it can be fixed, how much will it cost?  That includes labor, software, and hardware.  If the cost is too expensive, consider alternative solutions that are within the customer’s budget.

  • If it can be fixed, how long will it take?  The customer may need a solution quickly.  Is there a temporary solution that can make the customer operational quickly, while you work on a proper fix?

  • Give the customer several options (for hardware)

    • Option to repair the device.

    • Option to replace the device.  A replacement is a good idea if the existing device is near its end of life or unreliable.

    • Option to use genuine parts or generic parts.  Consider the risks of using non-genuine parts if the device is still under warranty.

    • If the device is under warranty, sending it back to manufacturer can be cheaper, but slower.

  • Document what you did

    • Keep documentation for yourself and other technicians.  You can refer to this when you run into a similar problem in the future.

    • Keep documentation for the customer in simple terms so that they can understand what you did

  • Follow Up

    • Call the customer a few days later to ensure that they are satisfied and that everything is working the way they expected.

    • Many unsatisfied customers don’t complain, they just go away.  This is bad for business.


Remember that each customer has confidential information, which could include

  • Intellectual property or trade secrets
  • Medical records
  • Financial information
  • Personal photos
  • Other sensitive information

The customer may be obligated by law or by contractual obligations to protect this information.  You can’t disclose information you see without permission (even evidence of illegal activity), unless required by law.

You shouldn’t remove data from the client’s site without their express written consent, and only if it is encrypted.  You could be liable if the data is lost.

Consult a lawyer before starting a business.  The lawyer can help you

  • Draft contracts and privacy agreements

  • Advise you on the data privacy laws in place in your jurisdiction