Here's a lesson I've learned in the last few weeks. It's simple, so simple I've had to relearn it. In fact, I'm half embarrassed to share it with you. However, that's how this thing works, so here goes...
In the last 2 weeks, this scenario has played out in various ways for three different projects. Here's one example:
Honestly was working on a Discovery Project with a new client. Part of the engagement included a small amount of customer research. To stay within budget and timeline, we timeboxed the customer interviews. After the period ended, our data set was a little smaller than we hoped. Alas, we proceeded with the rest of the project and delivered a ton of strategic value with actionable recommendations. Unfortunately during recap presentation, the client got hung up on the mix of target customers who responded. They felt they didn't get enough from the research portion.
Defending our process and work at this point, while fulfilling the letter of the contract, doesn't convince the client they got the value. Had I brought up this concern at the end of the research part, we could have agreed to settle for what we had or approved more research.
The lesson– always bring up potential issues that put the client's satisfaction at risk as early as possible. Present the facts to the client and let them make the choice on adding budget or additional timeline to the project.
This lesson doesn't only work for our business. Making assumptions for your customers is dangerous. The best bet is to give your customers the facts and present options for them to make the decision that benefits them the most.
Until next time.
P.S. Soulver looks like a very powerful and useful tool for running business scenarios and calculations.
P.P.S. I love studying the hows and whys of other businesses. This handbook from Basecamp has some great nuggets.
P.P.P.S. Here's a fun and thought provoking episode on 99% Invisible about sound design in nature films.