It's All About the Data

It's All About the Data
It's All About the Data

Monday, April 21, 2014

Just the Facts?

Have you ever had a customer/client get mad at you when you told them facts - all you said was:
- "The software won't solve 'x feature need'".
- "The process you are using is flawed."
- "If you don't have upper management buy-in, the success of the change is in doubt".

You have an upset client, now you are confused, and need to get this meeting back on-track.  All you did was give them "just the facts".

Why do you think the customer/client gets so mad?  Usually when the customer gets mad, the customer/client is really expressing anxiety.  Anxiety that:

- You have been able to diagnose the situation so quickly
- The solution is not a simple one
- The customer/client had just felt a pain and you are touching the bruise.


How can a better job be accomplished of telling the customer the 'facts'?

  1. Don't spit it out in the first five minutes of the meeting.  If nothing else, you will sound like a know-it-all.  At least spend time credentialing yourself  - (We have helped others, other successful implementations/projects).
  2. Ask as many confirming questions as you can.  Start broad and shallow before using granular-level questions.
  3. Use the feel, felt, found strategy - see blog.
  4. Facts, without a path to success, is counter-productive.  In each of the examples above (software, process, buy-in), there is a alternate answer that conveys the facts in a better (easier to accept) way.

Reducing Anxiety
The software won't solve 'x' feature
Talk about a work-around,  process change or inquire about what the feature does.
The process you are using is flawed
Help customer/client understand that there are better ways to achieve goal with less effort.  This is especially powerful if you are talking to a decision maker or Owner.  Feel, Felt, Found works well here.
Management Buy-In
No buy-in = no change
This is tougher.  Appeal to the decision-makers need for a successful implementation/project.  Appeal to their sense that if there is consensus, the team will work together to make the project/change a success.

I started this blog about facts and ended with customer anxiety.  My experience is that when the customer is upset over the facts provided, they are really expressing anxiety over either the compelling event that requires a change - or - anxiety that the change will not be successful.

Modifying the way we present facts, reduces the anxiety, and increases customer adoption, success, and satisfaction.

David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. ( David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.

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