I’m in training meetings this week with Duct Tape Marketing Coaches and every time I conduct these sessions interesting ideas bubble up.
Service providers often offer to provide accountability to the customers they serve – at least that’s the promise of the relationship going in. Your customers often hire you to come in and help, or maybe force, them to do the things they know they should. In fact, in some cases they may actually know how to do what they are asking of you, but they need that shove provided by the fact that you are there working with them.
So the question I would like to explore is this – at what point are there consequences if customers don’t live up to their part of the bargain? At what point do you stop inspiring, cajoling and yelling and just start backing off or disengaging all together? What about building monetary penalties into service agreements that kick in when a customer does not complete assignments they agreed to?
I know this may run counter to the “customer is always right” line of thinking, but I wonder if a customer who won’t allow you to do what you were hired to do contributes to devaluing your service? At some point they will disengage anyway and conclude that your service didn’t really help them. Is that any way to build a business?
I was once asked in an interview on this subject about the biggest mistake service providers could make and I answered – “caring more about results than our customers do.” Again, perhaps a bit cold sounding, but few things will drag you down faster than tethering yourself to a ship this is either sinking or permanently moored.
The point is, if you are putting yourself out there as a resource to help hold your customers accountable for reaching their goals, achieving a certain level of growth, or reaching a stated objective, then I think you must set very clear expectations that you are going to kick them in butt or kick them to the curb.
Their success and your reputation may both be at stake if you don’t.