Making Client Nice-Nice

Posted: October 11th, 2006 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

I’m living proof that there’s no such thing as a part-time job. The other night after putting Kate to sleep I was up until 11:30 reading work documents. Last night it was 9:00, composing an email to a client after a big meeting. But the thing is, I’m totally digging it.

Yesterday I went to a meeting with a client who has been less-than-pleased with some of the work we’ve done. And she’s someone who sets the bar high, which I’d totally do too if I were a client. So I’m going to meet her for lunch and I felt like the team at my office was squirting water in my mouth, rubbing my shoulders and sending me into the ring. Everyone was saying good luck as if I was chum about to be tossed in a shark tank. And I wasn’t really worried about it. But it was nice to have my new posse looking out for me. Made me feel like in the couple weeks I’ve been there I’ve been welcomed into the fold.

And the fact is, I love a good challenge. Especially when it’s about connecting with someone, getting to the bottom of what is bugging them, you know–making nice-nice with the client and turning the ship around. And it’s nothing fake that I bust out. I guess I just took the advice an old boss gave to me once years ago which was simply to put myself in the client’s shoes. At the time I was sticking up so vehemently for the internal team I’d lost sight of the fact that what the client wanted was totally reasonable.

So anyway, the night before my meeting I did my background reading. Printed out my driving directions. Carefully picked out an outfit and ironed it. And Kate even pulled one for the team by sleeping 12 hours straight so I could get a good night’s sleep. (What a peach.)

I feel like much of the time I brace myself for something it ends up being not half-bad. My meeting was totally do-able—somewhat positive and definitely productive. I heard some honest feedback on the team’s past performance, and it was neither crushing nor unrealistic. And I also think I made some inroads into determining ways I could help solve some of their problems. It was hardly a love-fest, but it felt like a solid first step toward developing a good relationship with the clients.

Of course, I’m all of two hours into working with them. The thing that’s challenging and fun and totally unnerving at times about client work is, just like anywhere else, it takes a while to develop trust and gain credibility. And at times you feel like despite whatever history you’ve established, you’re still only as good as your last presentation or conference call. But that’s what keeps me on my toes and gives me momentum to forge through late work nights. That and the satisfaction of feeling like even after a year of being out of the game, I can still give good client.

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