Do Your Job

Part 2 of a 3-part series on changing the client service model

I spent yesterday afternoon at Gillette stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts, and it struck me that the New England Patriots mantra “Do Your Job” is just the kind of multi-layer messaging that we strive for at Paragon.

It got me thinking about my own job responsibilities and to what degree I was living to my standards and “doing my job”.

As you may remember from my last post, the key distinction between exceptional service and mediocre service is whether or not the customer feels you went “above & beyond” to help.

Unfortunately, industry pressures have created conflicts between clients and their vendors. On the one hand, buyers have been burned so many times by broken promises they need assurances that they’ll get what they pay for. And this means their vendors must promise perhaps unreasonably high expectations to land the business in the first-place.

And this makes exceeding expectations very difficult. That said, here are a few of hard-fought lessons from my personal stumbles that hopefully help.

  • Over-delivering doesn’t count – I remember one particularly difficult project. The client hired us for an 8-week project with an incredibly simple but difficult question: “Is this an attractive business?” After 12 weeks we delivered a 196-slide PowerPoint deck (yes, 196 slides!). And… it fell woefully short of expectations. The result was a lose-lose. The client didn’t get a simple answer to its simple question, and we had spent enormous effort and expense on the delivery. To deliver massive amounts of work in an area or areas that don’t drive any value to your client is still a failure.

Lesson: Hard work alone does not guarantee high levels of client service and satisfaction. Getting it right does.

  • Communication style is a real thing – A CEO saw our efforts to provide value to his firm, yet struggled to reconcile the activities to his business objectives. Simply listing the tasks you are working on does not provide value. Every initiative must be purposefully executed. In the end, if your client can’t connect the dots of your output to his or her business priorities, then you will never showcase your true value.

Lesson: Understand your client’s key business drivers, align your activities to them and clearly communicate the impact of your activities to your client’s business outcomes

  • If your client fails, you fail – Despite our pleas for his attention, one client couldn’t take time away from current sales priorities for less-concrete projects like PR, messaging, and communications. Meanwhile, a competitor was stealing the thought-leadership mantle and basking in the glow of top-tier media outlets. The CEO rightly called us out. We have since redoubled our efforts to effectively install a powerful messaging platform built to last.

Lesson: The client is not the problem. The lack of effective communication on our part to convince him of the importance is the problem. If you find yourself saying, “…our client just doesn’t get it…,” then one thing is guaranteed – it is you who doesn’t get it.

Action Tells the Truth

As the New England Patriots and countless others through history have shown, mantras may be irritating at times, but they are powerful, leading to remarkable, often awe-inspiring results.

I’m adopting a phrase from my friend and martial arts instructor, Master Fong: Action Tells The Truth.

As he says, we cannot predict the future with complete certainty. For example, someone may be very cautious, and yet still fall victim to a terrible accident. Or, one might live a very clean, healthy lifestyle and still be stricken by a terrible illness. We cannot control this.

All we can control is our actions. We can prepare well. We can work hard. We can be passionate and caring, and do our very best. And we know the truth is, that if we do adopt this approach, 99 times out of 100 the outcomes produced will be excellent. Why? Because Action Tells the Truth.

Let me know if you think – or act – differently.

This post was written for Paragon by Mike Ross.

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