Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Office: Office - Client relationship

It is no secret that all relationships have an ulterior motive.  You love your siblings because they come in handy when you need to pin the blame or poach that nice T-shirt. You love your parents for the lifestyle they provide you (even though you wonder several times “Hell! Why am I putting up in this shack?”).  We all love friends for the unlimited freeloading (and the private free-loathing). We even love our enemies because they make us look cool (fake swagger and all)!

There is only one motive behind the existence of a client relationship. Money.  But so few people will admit it openly.  And like all relationships, it’s not a pact between equals. Something, even fewer people will admit, that too while enjoying free time in the loo. Kotler categorized clients into 4 types – price oriented, solution oriented, gold standard, and strategic value. In my limited working experience, I have seen some new types that can best be described taking help from the animal kingdom. 

(Image courtesy: www.dilbert.com)

1) The wild boar:  You will often receive a call that goes like this: “I have a photo that shows one of your employees rudely cut across our employee while driving on the road. Do you realize you have damaged our brand and relationship? I am escalating this matter to our Board. You better be prepared to answer.” You may have proof that the so-called employee doesn’t work for you (coincidentally neither does the so-called victim work for your client). But it doesn’t matter. You better prepare a real good answer and also practice touching your toes. You never know what will come in handy.

2) The cat: This relationship is best summarized as “beauty and the beast.” You wonder what you’ve done to bag such a client. So does the client, and what’s worse ensure he/she makes it evident to you. This variety accepts meeting invites but doesn’t show up and doesn’t apologize. While you come prepared to talk of pricing models, he/she talks of user experience and shows no interest in pricing. You want to build the relationship, he/she isn’t holding out the hand.

3) The Elephant: Asks questions. And answers them. “What is your position on the Right to Information Act? I know most companies don’t have one. I am sure you haven’t thought of one for now. So does that bother you or your clients? I mean, think of a scenario where someone does business with you basis some understanding and half way into the project the requirements change. Does that happen with you? And who initiates the change? And Before I forget, how do you manage it? As in, you follow the Six Sigma Black or the Green method?”……Still want to build a relationship?

4) The Shark: “You know, we have a right to audit your processes as part of the long term agreement. We noticed that you haven’t rounded off the decimals for all the numbers, as requested. So, we are suing you for negligence and waste of business time.” Oh! But we have a 5 year relationship. Let’s talk and fix this. “Oooh! That would be non-compliance with the process.  You shouldn’t drag relationship into this.”

Personally, I would get rid of any of these ‘clients’. Pity business leaders don’t feel that way.