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Your Computer Service Agreement: Five Mistakes to Avoid

Your Computer Service Agreement: Five Mistakes to AvoidA computer service agreement could be for anything from a single PC operating a one-man-band business, to a company’s worth of computers spanning an array of homes and offices. It all depends on the scale of your IT business.

Regardless, there are some basic principles you should always keep in mind when you formalize a service agreement with a client, and some “schoolboy errors” you can make if you don’t give the creation of the contract some thought.

Here’s a list of five of those potential mistakes, and why it’s crucial to avoid each of them. 

1. Agreeing to too much 

It’s human nature to try to do all you can to keep signing up new customers, but that doesn’t mean you need to sell your soul!

When you’re signing up a new client, make sure you know where you draw the line in terms of commitment, and always stick to it.

Say, for example, that a new client insists that they need a support service over the weekend, when you’ve promised yourself that you will never agree to it. Don’t get swayed by the dollar signs—you will only live to regret it. Know your boundaries. 

2. Failing to include a list of exceptions 

Always make sure that it’s very clear what you support and what you don’t.

If you don’t take care to list exceptions to what your contract covers, you could find yourself responsible for all kinds of unanticipated hardware and software. If a client chooses to use, for example, some antiquated accounting software or an unsupported database, don’t be the fool that commits to fixing it when it goes wrong! 

3. Forgetting the client’s obligations 

A computer service agreement is just that: an agreement. You are agreeing to support one or more computers, but your client should also be agreeing to use them in a responsible and consistent way. 

So, don’t forget to include a list of things the customer is required to do to keep up their end of the bargain. This could include making regular backups, refraining from installing new software without your say-so, and keeping third-party software up to date. 

4. Taking responsibility for hardware failures 

Unless your IT business specializes in hardware, it rarely makes sense to take responsibility for hardware failures. It’s far better to encourage customers to ensure that they have valid manufacturer’s warranties in place.

Of course, you’ll probably need to liaise with the manufacturers from time to time with regard to warranty claims—but if a hard drive fails and needs a rapid replacement, the manufacturer is invariably in a better position to respond than you will be. 

5. Failing to limit your liability 

It’s essential that you put a cap on how much liability you will accept for the failure of a customer system, whether legal or financial.

You should take this point seriously, and seek some legal advice to ensure you include a clause that limits your liability sensibly, to avoid the risk of being sued for something that’s not your fault. Needless to say, you should have some form of indemnity insurance just in case anyway!

 

What do you always include (or exclude) in a computer service agreement? Let us know in the Comments box below.

 

And to follow-through on the tips introduced in this short article, be sure to download your free copy of the special report on IT Service Contract Secrets for Getting More Repeat Clients and Recurring Service Revenue.

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