It is pretty normal for consultancy side practitioners to be in a situation where you are trying to explain your side of the story to the client but either they do not want to listen or are pressurized from their end and are unable to work with you even if they want to.
These situations could be as simple as:
- Getting an exclusive interview for their spokesperson, and you are trying to explain the criteria for such interviews in the given publication and why the journalist does not find your client a good fitment. OR
- Getting the press release covered across the country for an announcement, which is only relevant in one city OR
- You are trying to explain what type of content would work in the press release but the client is insisting on making it an advertising copy. OR
- Client advising you to take advantage of an ongoing event but you don’t want the client to be seen as opportunistic OR
- The evergreen classic – the client does not want the negative story to be published in next day’s publication or on a news portal, but you are advising that they share their viewpoint and let the story run.
I can go on and on giving you many more examples of the client-consultancy expectation mismatch. But this kind of communication mismatch is like an illness, if not treated on time it may get worse and uniquely in this case for both parties.
Most often the consequences are either change in the consultancy itself or a team change. The consultancy team is quick to blame the client for their lack of understanding of how the craft works, but that’s not their job either. They have hired the consultancy to do something they, either don’t want to do or they don’t know how to do it perfectly.
I know it’s bitter to hear for my consultancy friends but it is our job to walk the client through the maze and be patient until they get what you want to convey. The part of the retainer that we get is for this art of making your client believe in your counsel. Too often we think, what’s not to understand in that, it is crystal clear! But we need to put ourselves in their shoes to understand their pressure and the impact of not getting the work done, will have on their jobs.
If we do not accept this early on, the gap can widen to the level that it can cross the professional boundaries and develop personal animosity. Hence it is important to bridge the client-consultancy chasm at every step, at every interaction to have a long-lasting relationship. I am sure, I am not sounding great to many, but please put in your thoughts in the comments section and let’s have a discussion.
Very well articulated Vikram. True that we as consultants need to nurture the relationship with the client, in spite of mismatch of expectations. However,I feel we can draw a thin line between their expectations and the practical reality. While singing up, there needs to be clarity about expectations from both the ends.
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