Joanne Gore_printmediacentrby Joanne Gore

It’s 8:30 in the morning. You get a panic call from your client. Something is wrong… horribly wrong. And they need your help.

When a client is in crisis, they will do (and say) just about anything to resolve the matter. They will enlist whatever resources are available to help. And when the matter is resolved, they are forever grateful. But what about you? Your time and efforts?

Do you charge your client?

It seems that every day we’re hit with a new crisis, some of which impact us more personally than others. We face power outages, ice storms, hurricanes, hacked or lost data, epidemics, scandal; the list goes on and on. As service providers, it is our duty to shield our clients from impact as much as possible.

The other day I got such a call from a client. Their website was down and had been down since the night before. We contacted the Host provider. Well… we tried to. Their site was down. Their phones were disconnected. Panic started to set in.

We had just launched a brand new site for this company, after working on it for the better part of 2013. I contacted my designer. He was at a loss; he no longer had the site on his server. We still could not get in touch with the host; it appeared as if they had shut down overnight without a trace. My client had surpassed panic mode. I felt sick to my stomach.

We finally got a hold of the developer who, it turns out, had done a full back-up of the site before it went live. And thankfully, we had barely made any updates, since it was still so relatively new. We could breathe again! My client had found a new host and we moved the backup site over to them.


It had now been about 4 hours since I got the first panic call. Emails were flying back and forth, and out of nowhere… the original site went back up! It turns out that a snowplow had cut through their cables causing a complete outage. By this time my client had already decided that they would be switching hosts. We had not yet pushed the backup site live on the alternate host, and since we found out they don’t do daily backups, decided to look for a different provider.

Once we were satisfied that the site was, indeed, live (still the original host), my designer informed us that he was charging $100 for moving the backupsite over. And that when we were ready to migrate the site to the new host, it would be another $100.

Now here is where it gets tricky… and why I am relaying this story. My client went ballistic. My designer had never informed us in advance that there would be a charge. We had all dropped everything to help this client. We had spent the better part of a day trying to get the site up and running. And now there was quibbling over a couple hundred dollars. I seriously questioned my choice of profession at this point and wondered if I should become a Walmart greeter.

I looked at it from the client’s perspective and I got it. They felt kicked in the gut. And then I thought about certain professions: lawyers, doctors, therapists, plumbers, electricians, and even hairdressers! These are all people we turn to when something isn’t working and we need it fixed. Immediately. Do we expect to pay? Absolutely. Are we angered that we have to pay when we’re in a crisis? Absolutely. Do we do it anyways? I’ll let you answer that.

So what if the situation happened to you? Would you take advantage of your client’s predicament and charge more? Would you be compassionate and only charge your costs? Or would you let it go out of the goodness of your heart?

If you’re wondering how my story ends, here it is.

My client is paying the $100. They found a host that does backups and is getting them to transfer the site (and yes, paying them to do that). They will no longer be using my designer.

Lesson learned: ALWAYS communicate any costs up front. No matter what!

And if you think this can’t happen to you, check out the top 10 outages of 2013: 

About Joanne Gore

Joanne Gore has nearly twenty years of marketing and communications experience, including corporate and small office environments. A true mentor, Joanne marries her passion for marketing with clear, creative feedback and inspiration. Joanne develops lead generation and conversion programs, re-brands product lines, implements social media strategies, manages PR and media relations campaigns, overhauls websites, develops highly targeted marketing campaigns, and delivers results.

Joanne is an industry speaker, currently sits on the board of Xplor Canada, and is a regular contributor to “News from the Printerverse”. She is also a returning mentor for the Richmond Hill Small Business Enterprise Centre’s Summer Company, an Ontario Government initiative for youth entrepreneurship & employment.

Joanne graduated as a Graphic Designer and, prior to joining the corporate world, worked in the print industry as an art director, typesetter, and printing consultant. Joanne is a marketing geekette by day, a fitness instructor by night, and a mom 24-7.

Twitter: @joannegore121


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