How I fucked up so I could realize this

I’ve read many times about the importance of motivating your team. About how vital it is to make them feel appreciated. About how crucial it is to educate them. To build their skills. To empower them. To inspire them. And I think most importantly, to be compassionate towards your team. 

I haven’t read anywhere that you need to treat your customers this way (with the exception of educating the customers.) Now I realize that treating your customers with all the above is as important as treating your team that way.

I  refuse to have customers. Now, when I work on a project, the customer and us are all working together. There are no 2 teams. We are one team containing all the people involved in the process. It all started on that day…

The day when we received an email from one of our customers. The email contained feedback regarding a design proposal we sent them. We were chocked!

The email had a long list of changes. The changes aren’t specifically the problem. The problem is this: the list of changes was full of tiny meaningless changes that did not affect the outcome of the design, nor the effectiveness of the message. These were changes that would waste valuable time from the very tight and time sensitive deadline of the project.

It was as if the customer was telling that they hate to proposal without telling us that they hate it. Instead they listed every element in the design and asked us to change every one. I became furious.

As much as I tried to cool down, and tone down my email reply, I couldn’t. My email hurt the customer, and made them furious as well. And no, I didn’t shout or curse in the email. I didn’t use capital letters, nor bold. I used very strategic words that hit very sensitive nerves in people. Bad idea.

I am sorry for doing that. I would take it back. I can’t. And I think that without this incident, I would not have learned this valuable lesson. So there must be good out of it. 

I now understand that the problem was because the customer and us, we were behaving as 2 sides. The customer was not involved in the process. There wasn’t any communication.

When we received the brief from the customer, we threw away their brief and created our own. We did this without involving them in the process of creating a new brief. Somehow doing that was an insult by itself.

Sure the new brief might have served the customer’s desired outcome better; but that doesn’t matter because the customer doesn’t know that. We didn’t make sure that they’re aware of the added benefits and effectiveness of the new brief. 

Now I understand how vital it is to involve the customer in every step. To make them part of the team. To involve them in the initiatives we take. To motivate them. To inspire them. To empower them. To educate them; naturally. And most importantly, to be compassionate with them. To help them grow and develop their skills; the way you would want from any team member.

And I promise, you and your customer will have a richer experience together. Hopefully, without fucking up first.


Twitter: @williamchoukeir

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10 Responses to How I fucked up so I could realize this

  1. Charbel Jamous says:

    how true! we live this everyday william! thank you for letting it out 🙂

  2. Nisrine says:

    You amaze me.I’m starting to believe that you’re hiding away super time-morphing powers. You need to share that secret.In a note.A private one.With only me!

  3. Ali says:

    Nice post Will 🙂

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’m glad you like it Ali. Thank you, it means a lot.

  5. Ali says:

    Of course William, and since you gave my response appreciated attention, I feel like I should post another more intellectual response :PIt is very well known across good business practices that a customer should eventually be the one satisfied. However, when it comes to creative industries, things tend to get a little touchy. It is because, if I might call it, the ego of the creator. However we tend to forget at the end that although we are doing creative work, at the same time we are working with a client. And no matter how much WE like our work, if the client does not like it, it essentially has no value.It i true that certain clients do not know their real need, and they might argue on things at time when you are confident that it is you who has the right decision in mind. This is where I find it amazing the idea of involving the client with the game of creation. This way they would value your work even more, and you would make sure you are giving them what they need. SO in a way or another, it is more like designing a fancy dress than selling a pre-made car.At the end, we also should hope that the clients we work with are willing to put the effort of being involved.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Ali, that last sentence is a treasure. I still don’t have the antidote. If you do come across a way to deal with clients who aren’t willing to do the effort, do let me know. Until then, I have been and will keep firing those clients :-)Thanks again for your valuable ‘intellectual’ :p feedback. I love it.

  7. Karim says:

    Dearest William,Are you sure you knew better than the client? I’m currently struggling to find out who knows more: the "expert" or the "client(s)". Maybe its an equal balance?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Karim, did I claim somewhere that I know better than the client? All I bring in are the questions. The client has all the answers. I don’t believe that I know more than the client. And so I’d be surprised if I said so somewhere.

  9. Karim says:

    I did not mean to throw any accusation, habibi. This is simply what I interpreted from this sentence "Sure the new brief might have served the customer’s desired outcome better; but that doesn’t matter because the customer doesn’t know that."So I assumed that when you said "better", it meant better than the changes he/she desired.

  10. Anonymous says:

    <div dir="ltr">I didn't take it as an accusation 🙂 Not at all.<div>And you assumed right, &quot;better&quot; did mean better than the changes the customer desired. But this only applies to this specific case because we've been working for this specific customer for 4 years now.</div> <div><br></div></div>

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