How Clients Can Get the Best out of Us
post # 335 — March 21, 2007 — a Client Relations post
Hereâ€™s a question from “Eric”:
I am thinking of writing an article myself about how clients of consultants can create the right relationship with their consultant so that they get more bang for the buck (i.e. more insight from an objective viewpoint then they would normally get via the usually limited “statement of work”).
If my company gets called in to help out (with anything from strategy through technical implementations), we end up learning so much about their organization, how they build processes, how things really work and I feel that in some situations, the client puts barriers up that prevent effective communication.
If clients knew how to approach their consultants and their relationship with them, they could glean a lot of “insider” information that they would not normally get. We find out SO much about the inadequacies of client organizational structures, communication breakdowns, lack of effective change management etc. that I think the client management might benefit from if only they knew. Some know how to get this out of us and some don’t.
I understand some of the barriers: they might consider their consultants just money grubbing stiffs, may not trust them, are politically boxed in, etc.). Obviously, a bigpiece of a partnering relationship is the responsibility of the consultant lead. However, it does take two to tango, doesn’t it?
I think itâ€™s a great idea for an article, Eric. But you havenâ€™t really got us started.
Why donâ€™t we all try and complete the following sentence:
â€œTo get the most out of us, our clients shouldâ€¦..â€
(Self-serving actions like hire us some more are not allowed! The spirit of this is to avoid reinforcing the perceptions that Eric so readily identified — that if we are not careful, clients will see additional activities by us as the work of untrustworthy, money-grubbing people. Anything we suggest has to avoid reinforcing that, right?)
So, to get the most out of us/me, clients should:
- Help me/us understand, before we get in too deep, the real politics of whatâ€™s going on in their organization
- Tell us/me the truth, up-front, about what theyâ€™re really willing to change and what they are not
- Meet with us/me one-on-one informally, so that we/I can pass on â€œoff the recordâ€ and informally some of the things we think we have learned.
- Allow for informal â€œwhatâ€™s going well and what are you learning?â€ conversations on a regular basis during the work, not just at the end.
- Keep us/me informed if their priorities and goals have shifted, so that we/ can adapt along with them.
Anyone else want to join in? What could clients be doing (specifically) to get the most out of you and your firm?