An fresh perspective on client relationships and the dynamic between clients and experts. How the notion of the client is always right can hurt your client.
“It is a mistake to believe that the service sector mantra of “The customer is always right” applies to us. Like any engagement of expertise, we often enter into ours with the client not truly knowing what he needs, let alone recognizing the route to a solution. For us to do our best work we need to leverage our outside perspective. We need to be allowed to lead the engagement. We need to take control.” “We are hired for our expertise and not our service.”
-Excerpt from “The Win Without Pitching Manifesto” by Blair Enns
the Principle applied
A client came to us for help with their social media marketing. Wait...No. They actually requested our help with creating posts for Instagram. The natural inclination would be to run with that request and to try to solve that problem.
We didn't do what came naturally. Instead of assuming that the client was right, that what they needed was the creation of Instagram posts, we assumed that they were wrong and asked a few questions to see how wrong they were.
During our discovery meeting we asked what was driving the request. After some probing questions we discovered that what the client actually wanted was to attract a younger audience and growing on Instagram was a way of doing that.
Actually the client wanted to attract more customers in order to increase attendance to their workshops and seminars and getting a younger audience was a way of doing that.
Wait...no. What the client really wanted, was to have a greater and more stable revenue stream, as the founder was concerned about loosing motivation and having to deal with employee frustration due to low turn-out.
With each successive round of probing and investigating we were able to gather more insight on the client's real problems. Only then were we able to work towards finding real practical solutions that could effect real change.
The sooner you become comfortable with the idea that the client isn't always right, the sooner you'll be able to see beyond his/her request. Then and only then can you be of true service to your client.
We'd love to hear your thoughts? Have you had a similar experience? Do share your story!
— Neon Nation
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