Have you ever been made speechless in a meeting? Someone says something and you’re just overwhelmed at what is said and it quickly shuts you down. Maybe an inappropriate comment leaves you speechless. Perhaps it’s a verbal attack. I experienced something different. After the meeting, I was angry. Now I’m not. It took a while, but now I consider it resolved. Here’s what happened.
I met with a customer to discuss a project. His company was very interested in generating a customer loyalty survey. I’m not the right person to do that type of work. I did know someone who could. It was my husband. At the time, he was a data mining expert who had done extensive work on employee and customer satisfaction surveys. I knew he was the right person for the job.
We didn’t normally work together. My work is in sales. He is a PhD in statistics. There’s rarely an overlap. This time I suggested we do a joint project and he agreed. We discussed his strategy for developing a customer loyalty survey for this company. He recommended a couple of ideas taken from his successful implementations with other companies. He suggested a web-based survey so it’s easy to collect data and analyze the results. I agreed.
I called my contact to tell him that my husband had worked with several clients to generate these types of surveys. My contact was very excited. I also explained our approach which would be a web based survey. “Great,” he said, “I want you to meet with my CEO and present this project.” I was excited as I had never worked with my husband before and it sounded like fun. Boy, was I wrong.
When we got to the company, my husband and I were ushered into the conference room. My contact arrived and the CEO arrived a few minutes after. The introductions were made and we began the presentation. “I understand you’re looking for a survey to identify customer loyalty and improve customer satisfaction,” my husband said. “Yes,” the CEO responded. That was the last “yes” we heard. Then my husband said, “We’ve been thinking about how to best approach this project and a web delivered survey is fast, efficient and flexible.” The CEO quickly replied, “We will absolutely not use a web survey.” I was speechless.
I was in a quandary. I knew my contact knew the web was a no-go before the meeting, yet he never told me. Even so, I didn’t want to embarrass him in front of his boss. What could I say anyway? We briefly discussed the value of a web-based survey. The CEO’s mind was closed. The meeting quickly ended. What would you have done?
As I left the meeting, I felt like the CEO must have thought we were big idiots coming to a meeting with something he absolutely didn’t want. I was angry at being sabotaged and I really wanted the CEO to know what a jerk he had working for him. I said nothing. I didn’t know what to say. Now fast forward six years because that’s when the story continues.