Turning a client disaster into a $1 million success

Following the Collaboration Lab master class Navid, a consultant with a big data analytics company, decided to try out the techniques he learned with a client who was ready to pull the plug on the contract. He met the client and asked her what was wrong with the service she had been getting.

Navid sat back and listened to her tale of woe. He didn’t interrupt, he didn’t make suggestions, he didn’t defend himself, other members of the service team or the company. He just listened.

He then asked the client what she wanted from him and the company. Again, He didn’t interrupt, he didn’t make suggestions, he didn’t defend himself or others, he just listened.

It turns out, what the client wanted most of all was someone to listen to her, and communicate with her more effectively as the project moved forward, particularly over any problems encountered. She also had some very specific technical requirements that Navid was able to tell her the company could meet straight away, or would be able to meet following conversations with the right people and involving himself and the client.

The client was so impressed by this one conversation that she stuck with the contract and, after a few more meetings, actually committed to £1m of additional services.

This is an example of effective collaboration in practice. First, involving the consultant and client, then involving the consultant, client and others in the supplier company.

Navid wondered why nobody else had communicated in this way with the client before. He realised it was probably for the same reasons he hadn’t:

  • He didn’t think it was his job to take the lead with the client
  • He was a bit scared to ask the client what she thought of the service because he knew it hadn’t been good
  • He had assumed that it was the client’s attitude that was the problem and not delivery by the team.

As soon as he’d identified these assumptions, Navid realised they were plainly ridiculous and extremely unhelpful. However, had he persisted with them, it would have lost the company a valued client and their existing business, and they certainly would not have won any additional business.