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.