“I don’t see how what you did equates to what I paid you” - said the client. From there the service provider spent the rest of the meeting trying to justify their work.

This is a true example of something that unfolded between a client and a third party brought in to support a project. Unfortunately, the customer was still not satisfied and eventually terminated the engagement one month after it started.

While I sat listening to the uncomfortable exchange and seeing that there was blame on both sides there are a few things that stood out;

  • The customer didn’t understand what they were paying for

  • The expectations were not clearly set

  • The stage of the project was not properly defined

  • Both client and vendor didn’t understand the stage this project was in and the expected return

  • There was no firm metrics set to measure progress

  • Communication during the initial period was poor

  • The customer came up with their own expectations

Quote: “If it’s not written, then it cannot be managed”

Customers want one thing at the end of the day and that’s results. So, it’s imperative that solution/service providers take the time to clearly communicate what they are going to be delivering. However, before you communicate here’s what you MUST DO…ASK QUESTIONS.

The scenario at the opening of this article listed some observations that made it apparent that there was no Q&A session at the initial stage of the sales process which is a big mistake. There must be some form of consultation to make sure there is alignment between what is being asked and what can be delivered.

Here are some questions (in no specific order) that could have helped this situation:

  • At what stage are you in the project?

  • How exactly do you see us (service provider) supporting you on this project?

  • What key performing indicators (KPI) will you be using to measure our progress/success?

  • How important is this to you?

  • What does the overall project mean to you upon completion?

  • Who or what will be reporting on progress?

  • How often will progress updates be required?

  • Each time we speak, what standard will tell us we’re progressing?

  • What happens if it is not achieved?

  • Whats the escalations procedure for problems?

These are just some, but with a dedicated focus and help from your mastermind team, I’m sure you will have the ability to list out other important questions. If it’s not written, then it cannot be managed so once you have established the metrics/expectations from your questions, document them and share with the client for review and approval. Once agreed upon by both parties, then you can start delivering on the project.

Quote: “Get it right the first time” - General Quote

One of the hardest things to rebuild in a business relationship is trust, especially when the customer is new so getting it right the first time is very important. Customers will always have expectations of us and that’s good. However, it’s your responsibility to make sure that you clearly understand, set or reset their expectations as it relates to what you are being asked to do.

Doing this, builds trust, customer satisfaction and most importantly customer loyalty.

Image Courtesy: www.shophurt.pl

About the Author: Lyndon is the founder and managing director of OPAAT-SWY Consulting Ltd. His areas of expertise are sales and customer service coaching.

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