I consider myself a knowledgeable computer user. I've always picked up how to use systems quickly - and for the most part I enjoy 'working' at the various ways we communicate with people through online tools. Like many others, I also find it easy to be distracted by the wealth of new information that's out there just waiting to be dipped into. However, there's nothing worse than when your IT refuses to work properly!
I'd known for a while that my trusty laptop was nearing the end of its usefulness, so before it crashed on me, we decided to replace it with a nearly new PC, which had oodles more storage space and lots of healthy, refurbished parts! The laptop was retired and is having a better quality existence as a standby presentation tool when we want to look at things together on the widescreen TV!
Unfortunately the transition to the new PC hasn't been so smooth. In fact putting it on our small office network just highlighted problems we'd been having for a while. Nigel and I have long maintained that despite our comfort in using IT, technological developments always seem to advance one step beyond our level of efficient competence!
We soldiered on, investigating how we might resolve our problems and fixing one thing at the cost of something else which decided to stop working.
We knew we needed help...
This should have been an easy decision for us. After all aren't we always telling people not to leave it too late before asking for help with their relationship. We know the very real truth behind the saying: 'A stitch in time saves nine.'
So what was holding us back?
Well there was - and remains - the very real concern about costs. This is something our clients are also concerned about, so we applied what we say to them to ourselves. When we looked at the bigger picture, we identified our outcome as having a smooth running office. This is so much more than just fixing a computer and includes both emotional and practical benefits. This really put the costs into proportion. In the same way our clients consider our fees in the context of the unmeasurable value of a happy relationship, or the practical impact of an amicable divorce.
Deciding we would pay to get things fixed, didn't mean we'll just spend whatever it takes. Understanding our concern about costs, the contractor we found outlined a whole range of options - allowing us to remain very much in control of the next steps.
The biggest barrier of all was finding someone who could help us and whom we liked. Since we set up The Relationship People, we've talked to many IT guys: some have come on an ad hoc basis to fix things; some have come to tell us what they can do for us; none have really been people we want a long term relationship with.
And then suddenly we met just the right person at a presentation in Southampton. We immediately liked him. What made the difference is that he shares our values: he is generous with the information he shares up front; he did not judge us; he respects his customers and makes sure they get what they need. Best of all, when he came for his initial visit, he exceeded our expectations by getting stuck right in after a very brief scene-setting discussion.
Who is this paragon of IT know how? Our thanks go to Rupert Walmsley who runs ITC of Southampton and I have no hesitation in recommending him.
If you have experienced anything as frustrating as unfathomable computer problems, you'll understand the wonderful relief I felt when I knew the next time I switched on, everything would be working properly. Good bye to multiple Outlook files. Hello to reliable internet connection. Yes I need to develop some better habits - regular backups and culling old emails comes immediately to mind - but essentially I am immediately able to get on with doing the things I really want to do.
If you haven't guessed by now, this whole experience resonated strongly with me because of the similarity of process many of our clients go through before asking for help. I've often wondered if another barrier is rooted in our Great British reserve? But that's another blog! For now I've had a valuable reminder that it's so much better when you get the right people doing the right job.