Recently, I was talking with a friend who is also a
consultant. We were discussing the big differences in how professionals treat
clients. He and I agree that you should try to accommodate your client however
you can as long as you’re not breaching ethical or legal boundaries.
We were both raised to believe our job is to serve our
customers the best we can to help them meet their goals. So we both try to act
consistently with that value.
My friend mentioned a large firm where one of his
colleagues works that takes a different approach. He cited a specific example of
where a client had requested a particular professional and the firm assigned
them someone else. They did that several times.
When asked why, a person at this consulting firm said:
“We decide what the client gets. That’s how we do
At least that person was clear about how they did things.
And they seemed to be consistent.
What this person (and firm) apparently missed was the idea
that the client has some say in how their work is handled. (I know, it’s a crazy
idea but these are crazy times.)
The amazing thing is this is a well-regarded and
successful firm. They’re growing. From all outward appearances they’re doing
This says as much about customer’s expectations as it does
about how companies treat their customers. It tells me there are a lot of people
who, as customers, are willing to accept lower standards than I would.
It also tells me there’s a big opportunity.
Our world has changed. People have always valued a high
level of service but today they have a greater ability to demand and expect it.
And more people have the ability and willingness to provide a higher level of
But not everyone.
For me, this is the amazing part. There are still a lot of
people and companies who don’t get it (like the large consulting firm in the
example above). They behave as if they control the relationship. Their
perspective seems to be all about what they want. It’s all about them.
That’s old school thinking. It will destroy a company in
the 21st Century.
Because of many changes in our world, we all have more
options than ever before. Customers have more choices in their suppliers.
Employees and have more choices in how they serve their customers. And we all
have more information and knowledge than ever before.
Slowly but surely people and companies that remain focused
on their needs will disappear. Eventually they’ll find nobody wants to do
business with them. They’ll find people don’t want to work for them either. Why
Take a look at your company and your policies. Are you
still doing things the “old school” way? Are there ways in which your company is
focusing too much on itself and not enough on your customers?
Find these and shine a spotlight on them. Then replace
them with policies and processes that help your entire organization focus on
helping your customer. Do that and your company will thrive in the 21st