What’s the problem?

by | Jul 26, 2015

Last month, I went to see a potential new client. I love these meetings. I get to meet someone new. I get to understand what they want to achieve. And most of all, if I get it right, I get to help them realise some of their objectives.

At the start of our meeting we were discussing a well known database product. “They were so difficult to deal with and it took so much longer to migrate our data and it was such hard work, I’m not sure it’s the right thing for us to have done!”

This got me to thinking, as I have the habit of doing: “If we took your experience of the supplier out of the equation, would you feel differently about the database?” “Probably, yes. It is designed to do what we need, and if it’s used correctly it’s really powerful.”

What an incredibly potent and insightful statement.

I provide data and database services to a range of different organisations, some big, some small, all with different objectives, different causes and reasons for existing. And the one thing that unites them is their impression of me. How much they like me. How easy it is for them to work with me. I might deliver the best range of services of all the data companies, but this would be completely irrelevant in the face of my poor attitude, should I decide to adopt one. It’s not normal to be able to split the delivery from the product and service like I was able to do with my client, and embrace a more practical view of the situation.

So I kept on thinking about this idea some more and more questions started popping up. “How does this idea drive or inform the services I provide?” Well, apart from my presentation of me, I help organisations with their data. Very often data is central to the first impression you give to a prospective customer. If you get their name wrong are you doing the data equivalent of pitching up at their house, inviting yourself in, throwing yourself on the sofa and hogging the remote? The more you get wrong and the more often you get it wrong, the worse that impression gets.

We’re very good at identifying the overt signs of poor service: missed deadlines, lack of contact, unhelpful attitude, but I’m not so sure we’re very good at identifying (or addressing) the more subtle signs: inconsistent branding, inconsistent language, automatic email responses that are out of date, hard to navigate websites, misspellings and/or poorly presented data. These things are important. These things are as damaging to your business as a Receptionist wearing tatty jeans, chewing gum and growling “What?” when you walk in.

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