14. April 2008
Step 1 - Make Assumptions
Result - No more pesky client!
For those of you who have known me for a while or have followed my blog for any length of time, you should know that I am rather adamant about customer service. I believe that it is the one aspect of our industry that is in desperate need of serious attention. There is one skill that all of us who ever have to deal with clients (or managers, or peers, or direct reports, or spouses, or friends, or - well you get the idea) need to master. It’s the art of listening. let me give you an example of how important it can be.
I was recently involved in helping a friend try to win a project for his struggling consulting business. He was one of two finalists for the contract and was asked to come in and present his solution for their application. The problem was that the RFP for the work was very vague. It gave a general idea of what the client was looking for but left out some critical pieces of information he needed to give a good presentation on the matter. Having lived the life of an independent contractor, he asked me if I had any advice for him. I told him the best presentation that he could give them was one that he didn’t prepare. As it turns out, I was right. My friend was up against a big company for the work and believed he had no chance of winning it, so, even though he thought I was crazy, he took my advice and went in without a prepared presentation but rather armed with a few simple questions about their business need and processes. This started a dialog and allowed them to see his problem solving skills in action. The other company took the RFP, made a list of assumptions and went in pitching a solution that in the end completely missed the mark of what the client was looking for. End result, my friend has a new contract that should keep him busy for the next year or two.
Chalk another one up to good customer service!