18 Feb Is No News Ever Good News?
Is No News Ever Really Good News?
We’ve all heard the rationale, “No news is good news.” Sometimes that’s true. If you don’t hear from the IRS, that might be a good thing. However, no news is seldom good news when it comes to client relationships.
Our experience, over many years of working with leading service providers, is that generally the sheer volume of communication that transpires between the parties who have entered in to a contractual relationship is directly correlated to the health of the relationship. Even if the client is complaining or sharing negative feedback, it usually indicates that they care about what is happening and, that as difficult as the situation may be, they haven’t given up on it.
Conversely, great performance and progress should foster its own volume of communication. As we meet and exceed client expectations and deliver valued innovation, it’s important to bring the client in to share in our good results and value creation.
“We must document our successes, our failures will document themselves.” (John Gamble)
It is when the communication drops off, that our concern should escalate. We usually bring some of this on ourselves. As the relationship matures and problems are being solved, things run more smoothly and a “new normal” begins to take over. It is easy to assume that if the client is not complaining, things must be just fine. But, it’s not necessarily so – the new normal is almost always accompanied by a diminished recognition of value if our client communication has waned. The scope and severity of the initial problems that we solved dims with the passage of time. It happens almost every time.
By at least 80 / 20, our clients err by under-communicating, not over- communicating, with their clients as time marches on. If you do happen to be over- communicating, your client will guide you in scaling that back, but they won’t be angry or upset as they do so. Just make sure the scale, timing and content of client communications is consistent with their expectations – then exceed it by “just a little bit.” It takes intentionality, along with ‘tenacity’ and discipline, to initiate and manage the communications necessary to ensure a healthy and thriving client relationship.
Of course, real alarm is appropriate when calls are not being returned, messages not responded to, or meetings missed. Immediate and drastic measures, usually involving senior management, are indicated. Somebody is talking to your client – it’s just not you.
In your experience, has “no news” from a client ever resulted in anything positive? Perhaps so – but shouldn’t the quiet raise your antennae just a bit?
John & Steve