Teach a Man to Fish…

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” – Chinese Proverb

Amen to that. Having been an IT consultant for nearly 20 years, it occurred to me a long time ago that the most important thing you can do as an IT service provider is to empower your clients. This means taking the mystery out of technology for them (i.e., teach them to fish).

Granted, there are some things your clients will never fully understand – after all, that’s what you’re there for. But in my opinion, your relationship with your clients involves a certain amount of generosity. I think it’s up to you as a service provider to let your customers in on the secret as much as possible.

Some consultants disagree with me. They feel there should always be an element of mystery in their negotiation with their clients – “if my client knows too much, they won’t call me anymore.” That kind of thinking is not only old and limting, it’s ungenerous. I think in these times, when technology is all around us – in our ears, our pockets, our briefcases, and at home, an uninformed populace is not a good thing. Granted, there are clients who will never want to learn the ins and outs of their technology, but there are others who want to feel that they understand how to use that smartphone they carry in their pocket or the laptop they take to Starbucks.

So what will your clients do when you empower them? They will not only be calling you again, but they will be happier customers. They will be more likely to recommend your services to their friends. Your client list will grow, and you can feel better about yourself for providing a real service to another human being.

–Joe Bowen