Let's face it: No one enjoys difficult conversations.
We would all much rather operate in ideal situations where everyone sees eye-to-eye and are on one accord at all times. Go team... right?
Well... not always.
We had a difficult meeting with one of our top clients recently. One that we intended to be difficult. But why? Why would we do that to ourselves?
The answer is simple: We value them, and there was more to be gained from the difficult conversation than was to be lost.
The root of the issue was an apparent disconnect. A disconnect in the vision of the project at hand, but also a disconnect with regard to how the production and post-production process should work. There was a need to challenge them on both. From our perspective, among other effects, continuing to operate in this manner would cost them more money due to additional time spent, without actually delivering additional value to the product to truly justify the additional cost.
But why make waves? They obviously don't have a problem spending, so we shouldn't have a problem receiving it, right? Why not let them decide when there's a problem? The customer is always right, right?
Well... not always. Here's why we take the driver seat:
- We are the professionals of the service being provided. Clients don't always know what they don't know. Part of our responsibility is to not only provide the service, but to execute in the best way we know how, based on our professional experience. If this is not happening, whether it's because of us, them, or a combination of both, it is our duty to speak up.
- To clear up any miscommunication or lack of communication. In client relationships, communication is everything. We value the relationships, and it's important to us that the clients know just how much. They could easily start considering other vendors who are willing to be more proactive in managing the communication. So it's best to keep the lines as open as possible.
- To reconfirm value proposition (and what is required to realize that value). One common mistake business owners make is either not being confident in what they bring to the table or not clearly communicating it. It's very easy to resort to just doing what you're asked (told, really) and collecting your check. But is that your true value? Does your client know that you can do more? Do they know what is required of them to get the most value from your service? Know who you are and the value you bring, and check to make sure they know as well.
- To gain new insight. Disagreements are opportunities to learn. For the service provider, it can be an opportunity to understand context of why the client wants things done a certain way. It can be an opportunity to learn how they think and why certain decisions are made. The more information the better. We are firm believers in knowing our clients. This aids us in thinking ahead to better ways to help them fulfill their objectives, and puts us in better position to deliver each project more efficiently.
- To show our passion and how much we care. The reality is that we love what we do. We have just as much interest in delivering a quality product as the client does in receiving one. There's confidence to be gained in the client being assured that status quo is not part of our objective, even if momentary discomfort is required to deliver that message.
So, was the recent meeting uncomfortable? Yes. But those reasons considered, it's worth it every time.