Eating your own

We have about 1,300 clients is a particular retail channel and that represents more than half the number of retailers in the channel with what would be considered event remotely current technology.

A few weeks back a company working the same channel but servicing a different (non point of sale/scanning) need decided they had to install software on the hardware running our system. This was unusual since their systems usually ran on separate hardware.

So, their technicians head out and start installing this software unbeknownst to us. The result was a wave of calls to our help desk. It took us some time to track down the problem. It turns out that the software they were installing required drivers for which conflicted with the way our software ran.

After a few days we developed a work around so our application (the main application for the technology) and their application could co-exist.

That worked fine for a week or two until more problems cropped up when their technicians started making other changes without reference to us.

Wew eventually sorted that out.

Then, this past week – about sixs weeks after this all started – some of our clients were told by an employee of this other company that our customer service was appalling. The person concerned made the comment because we refused further assistance to a client who had serious problems as a result of work done on site by their technician. The result was sever impact on the usability of our software. We had gone to extraordinary lengths for this site, putting in hours at no cost to fix problems not caused by us. When we said enough is enough the representative of the company which caused the problem became quite feral, hurling abuse at our people.

I’ve been thinking about this in the context of media reports of how much doctors look out for each other – keeping criticisms private. The same is true in the legal fraternity. No so with IT companies it seems.

Our experience this past six weeks has been most disappointing. We’ve been kept in the dark on serious changes to the configuration of hardware running our software as the main application; kept in the dark about crucial information which might have helped resolve the problems caused; and, abused (unreasonably) when we drew the line of free help we were providing.

It’s been a very testing time for us and more so for our clients. To have their businesses disrupted in this way is most disappointing not only because of the economic and emotional impact but also because of regardless of the facts, some blame will be directed at us by our clients.

The whole sorry mess could have been avoided by greater openness and testing of their proposed changes.

IT companies could learn from other professions in how to deal with each other.

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