30 Sep Back to “Gnats” – Traversing the Matrix
Back to “Gnats” – Traversing the Matrix
(Sorry – this blog is a bit longer than usual, but we wanted to unveil the rest of the toolbox for getting to Gnats in anticipation of some exciting news in the weeks to come. Plus – it’s a pretty complex subject!)
If you have followed along the last few weeks, you know that “Gnats” is that sweet and fragrant spring day in the south – that blissful feeling when all is right with the world. Enough so that even that one pesky little gnat can’t spoil it. That’s where we want to be in our client relationships, but alas, the “FreshEyes® Review” has revealed that we’re not.
If we’re in “Warranty Work” (the relationship aspects are good but technical delivery and innovation are falling short) the answer is simple. The solution is “The Guru”. Find the “Subject Matter Expert” (SME aka The Guru) in the organization that knows how to fix the problem – get them on site and execute their plan. Use the trust and rapport that we’ve established to keep every member of the client’s Web of Influence® fully informed at every step.
“Melt Down” is a whole different kettle of fish. If the account is on fire we have to chart our way back to “Gnats”. We have a choice to make too – and that is what path do we take. As Indiana Jones famously said, “Choose wisely.”
The wise choice is to navigate back through the “Counselor” quadrant. Marshall whatever resources and support are necessary to first go to work on repairing the relationship. We’ll need to buy as much time as possible to fix the technical problems and begin to rebuild trust and confidence in our service capabilities and our ability to listen and respond. If we fail to prioritize the relationship, we may never get the time to repair the technical – the sands just run through the hourglass too quickly. They always do.
The Summit Meeting
When the managers involved can’t solve things and both the contract and the relationship are nearing destruction, a Summit Meeting may be the only thing that can save it. Sometimes, the big picture escapes those caught up in the day-to-day issues. But in order to have a Summit Meeting of any substance, the senior executives on both sides have to know each other and have a personal feel for the issues at hand. And, that can only be done during the course of the contract. To be truly effective, the Summit Meeting should not be the first time senior executives are meeting one another.
Summit Meetings between thoughtful, knowledgeable people rarely fail … but they often fail to take place.
The OK Corral
As in the Old West, sometimes the only way to solve things is to call the other party out of the saloon and have the inevitable showdown at The OK Corral. It’s either you or me… but clearly if something is not resolved, somebody’s going to be pushing up daisies at Boot Hill… and chances are it’s us.
The OK Corral tactic is indicated when Armageddon is clearly around the corner and we are being blocked from access to senior executives on the client side, or when a direct liaison is completely unreasonable and a conduit for distorted information. It’s no time for politics and protocol — it’s time for power and persuasion directed against whoever needs to hear it … right now. So let’s have it out … “mano et mano” (or the appropriate gender equivalent) … and let the chips fall where they may.
The House Money Bet
Sometimes all we can do – the Hail Mary, aka the nuclear option – when the firing is imminent is to double down with The House Money Bet. Basically, we’re going to assume the full risk that we can make things right – meaning that if we don’t – we don’t get paid. Here’s a sample of how this conversation goes:
“We recognize that we are not getting the job done that you hired us to do and that you have legitimate expectations of us that are going unmet. That’s not acceptable to us and, of course, it is not to you either. We are committed at every level of our organization to making it right and we are asking for both the time and the support to do that.
We also recognize that we have not given you adequate reasons to trust us in accomplishing this and that we need to earn that trust once again. Effective immediately, we propose to work here without compensation until such time as you agree we are providing legitimate value to you.”
As a recent Secretary of State famously said, in another context, “What difference does it make?” In the “Melt Down” scenario, we’re going to lose a “Right Client” and since that’s not OK, a little lost revenue is a small price to pay for the chance to retain it. And, if, in the Doomsday Scenario, we prove to ourselves that we really can’t provide real value to this client, we resign and walk away on our terms.
The toolbox is full: Have a Parade, The Guru, Mr. Potato Head (take that Dan Quayle) The Summit Meeting, The OK Corral and The House Money Bet. These are some of the Clients for Life® programmed actions that can show us the way back to the sweet annoyance of just an occasional “Gnat” or two among the azaleas and red buds.
Once again, before we leave this subject, we urge our clients to be willing to take an independent third-party look at the status of their contracts and to have a bias for action, particularly if what we learn is not what they wanted to hear. At this stage, “what we do” is of less importance than the reality that we actually did something.
Steve & John