Bam! Work is delivered, so all is done!
Booyah! That is not what was originally agreed upon, so no can do!

Any work between two parties are complicated. And more so when the circumstances are that you are working for someone. That’s why we have project agreements, SOWs, and briefs, and even trails of meeting notes, and e-mails. It’s always good to have everything in writing, so that clients don’t ever, ever change their mind in the end. A spectacular job at that is what makes a true account person, a stellar superstar of client services.

This mentality, makes me sad. It makes me rethink what advertising is all about, all richness and passion forgotten, all enthusiasm and motivation lost.

Walk into a restaurant. You order a club soda and a fettucine alfredo. The waiter kindly takes your order on a memo pad and gently leaves for the kitchen. Then you notice that all other tables seemed to have ordered the meatball spaghetti. Oh, a quick change of mind, you think. But the waiter comes back saying, “this is what you ordered, as per my order form, and you’ve already confirmed when I asked you again.” But you insist, and your waiter says that given the timing, the best they can do is to negotiate half-way between the cream-based alfredo and theĀ marinara-based meatballsĀ (fettucine meatbalfredo). At an extra charge. Quality not guaranteed due to timing.

Now of course, it’s a totally different story when comparing a $15 out-of-your-pocket meal to a multi-million dollar project from your employer’s marketing budget. But the underlying similarity is the attitude.

Waiter’s perspective: 1) Order was taken, clean-cut and simple. 2) Re-confirmed to make sure. 3) Customer changed order. 4) Negotiated to meet half-way. 5) Received extra-revenue. 6) Delivered final product.
CONCLUSION: Extra tip for coping with the mess?

Customer’s perspective: 1) Placed original order. 2) Waiter came back for confirmation of order, as if not trusting me. 3) Market situation made for change in direction. 4) Had to spend energy to persuade waiter to change order. 5) Had to agree to extra costs to meet deadline. 6) Did not exactly get what was asked for in the end. 7) Final product? Not to perfection.
CONCLUSION: No tip to waiter for the mess. Never coming back to this restaurant.

Now just imagine the arguments that could go on in the conclusion stage. However, in the end, the loss is bigger for the waiter. Why? Because the customer will no longer go back to that restaurant. Will maybe leave a few negative reviews on public domains for the rest of the world to read about. Restaurant then loses a valued customer, loses potential customers, and waiter loses job. What next? Restaurant must do 200% better and harder with their existing customers to rebuild their image.

The moral of this story isn’t to say that you should do everything as ordered by your client. This analogy is very far-fetched from reality, and yes, there are numerous solutions to make both parties happy. And I’m not saying that the waiter did wrong – in terms of what he did, he did the right thing. But it’s the attitude I wanted to discuss here. It’s that thought that comes to mind without thinking: “You said that and proof is written here,” “too late now, too bad,” “are you happy now?” kind of attitude. That puts the other party in a very cornered position, putting them under extreme pressure, making it easier to build tension. I’m sure the waiter did a great job of greeting the customer with smiles in the beginning, but he had lost his trust because he did not trust the customer. Even while he’s smiling, the way he takes down those orders, the way he re-confirms all building to this mistrust – the customer already knew what the waiter was up to. So do not doubt your client, but be sincere, honest, and truthful in order to win back their trust. It’s not just business. Business is business because it happens between businesses and the people comprised thereof; and without trust, that relationship will get you nowhere. Don’t be a pretend to do a service, do a service like you mean it.

So, always have faith in your clients, so that they can do so to you as well, and always put the client’s psychological process into perspective, as well as to consider the detrimental damage it might bring to you and your business otherwise.

 

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