In many situations in life, we rely on the advice of professional experts for important reality checks. Think about the last time you had to hear some tough love from your doctor or from an auto mechanic. Sure, we sometimes don’t like to hear that we’ve been doing something wrong or that we’ve messed up in some way, but it’s better to accept the advice and get back on track to avoid problems in the future, right? The same can be said of your IT support company.
This is fresh on my mind because of a recent interaction I had with a prospective customer. Unfortunately, I don’t think that this individual will have any interest in retaining the services of an IT support company because — well, he seemed to have no interest in receiving help from an IT support company. Instead, he wants to continue doing things the way he wants to do them, which could ultimately end up hurting him in the long run.
Although I would never say anything disparaging or negative to a prospective customer’s face, I always pride myself on being honest and straightforward about problems that I see as it relates to technology, especially if it is something that a customer needs to hear.
Somehow it worked its way back to this individual that I referred to the computer equipment his business was using as garbage. Very likely, whatever criticism I made of his company’s system was mutated as it was relayed from person to person back to him, and he was terribly offended by this notion.
Regardless of what was originally said and how this individual decided to receive or interpret my comment, I stand by it as a professional opinion. His equipment was junk. If he took his company’s IT needs seriously, he needed to replace and upgrade it.
My job isn’t to comfort my customers. My job is to serve their technical support needs and prepare them for what’s ahead. Part of that is identifying deficiencies in their organization. In fact, I’d be negligent — and probably receive negative feedback — if something bad happened and I failed to warn them that it could happen.
Because let’s face it: Bad stuff can happen when you neglect your equipment or fail to upgrade it the way you should. I don’t say that to be a doomsayer or to scare my customers into taking my advice — it’s the simple reality.
By the same token, when a doctor tells you that you need to quit smoking or an auto mechanic tells you that you need to replace your battery, they aren’t trying to scare you or shame you. They’re looking out for your best interests.
The Risks of Outdated Computers and Software
If a company is using an outdated computer, they could put themselves at risk for a software failure. This is one of the most prominent IT problems that support companies are hired to resolve. When you have bad software, it’s at risk of crashing or failing. When this happens, you either have to waste time while your computer is rebooted or replaced. In that time, you lose productivity and accomplish less of what you normally would in a day. This could also mean you lose sales, and if your backset affects your customers, you could end up losing important business.
Poor software also leaves your company vulnerable to hackers and data thieves. Think back to 2017 when more than 200,000 computers across 150 countries were attacked in what came to be known as the WannaCry ransomware attacks. The individuals depending on these computers — many of them business professionals — were told they had to pay a ransom or else they would lose everything on the computer. Each of these 200,000 situations could have been avoided if the individuals behind those computers had not been using out-of-date software.
Another common IT problem that support crews often see? Human error. It’s one of the reasons people need to be open to guidance and proper training from the individuals who understand technology the best. An IT support team can offer you important insight on how to recognize dangerous attachments, how to avoid phishing scams, and best practices for setting strong passwords.
Furthermore, an IT team will help you understand why you should use company computers only for company operations (no checking personal email or social media pages) and why you should avoid doing business activities on personal devices (such as checking your work email). Violating any of these could potentially set you up for an IT disaster.
But when you decide that you’re going to pick and choose when you’re going to accept a professional’s opinion, you end up boxing that professional in — and preventing them from doing their job. When you create an environment of fear, animosity, or distrust, it can lead to problems being ignored or hidden — ultimately, a disaster in the making.
Instead, be receptive, respectful, and ready to learn. It might be what makes all the difference in whether your company succeeds with technology or whether it fails.