07 Jul Commandment #3: Expect Your Client To Have Expectations You Didn’t Expect They Would Have
Tenacity Commandment #3: Expect Your Client To Have Expectations You Didn’t Expect They Would Have.
The third of the original Ten Commandments instructs us not to take the name of the Lord in vain. That can be a particularly difficult temptation when a client expectation surfaces that seems completely out of left field. But, it does happen, so just expect it to.
Recently, Tenacity Partners John, Randy, Marty and I were filming a remake of a staged Transition Meeting that we use in our training. (The original is now over 20 years old and it is kind of distracting (not to mention embarrassing) when trainees ask, “Wait a minute… Is that YOU (in the film)?”
The video depicts a scene where an executive at the prospective client voices an expectation of Tenacity that goes like this, “Since our services are in highly regulated industries, I would like Tenacity to monitor, at the Congressional level, proposed and enacted legislation that may impact our ability to serve and retain our clients. We would want briefs prepared each month summarizing this activity along with recommended steps we should take.”
So, while the video is scripted, the most amazing thing is that this actually happened (to me) in a Transition Meeting years ago. Truth really is stranger than fiction – you can’t make this stuff up!
OK, the hierarchy of potential responses goes something like this: 1) Swearing (not an option – remember? 2) Responding with “Are you kidding me?” (an equally poor choice) or, 3) (and, this one is correct, of course…) stoically clarify it, scribe it and move along to the next expectation.
The very capable female executive (Chief Administrative Officer) who gave voice to this expectation, had not been directly involved in the discussions and negotiations up to that point. Still, her expectation was real and important – it just wasn’t a service that Tenacity was equipped to provide.
What we couldn’t do, is let the contract go forward with the CAO expecting that we would provide this service. If we did proceed (either without knowing about the expectation or not addressing it), we would create disappointment and subtract from the value she was looking for in the relationship (not to mention violating Commandment #2).
It is so critical to get all of the client’s expectations on the table, prioritize them, then take a position as to whether we can and will meet them – or not. It is particularly important that this be done prior to the start of the contract. That is the power and the value of the Transition Meeting.