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#683: Don't Assume the Client Recognizes the Value of Your Work

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, October 26, 2011
As part of the disengagement process, my firm goes through a formal exit interview, a review of contract terms and deliverables, and asks for referrals and/or testimonials. However, in some engagements for which we did a great job and exceeded all expectaitons, the client was reluctant to provide testimonials. What gives?

There are two issues likely at work here. First, checking on the status of your performance should not wait until the end of an engagement. Set up a fairly clear and deep set of performance expectations at the beginning of the engagement. Then confirm that you have met those expectations periodically throughout the engagement. The client may be forming a negative opinion of your work without you knowing it, one that is hard to reverse at the end even if you delivered all requirements. Don't let any bad opinions take root.

Second, don't assume that a client recognizes the full value your advice, services and work products. What you may see as an elegant, sustainable and powerful solution to a serious long-standing problem may appear to the client as just another piece of consultant work. If the problem you are solving is not specifically owned by your client sponsor, the perceived value may be low. Beyond noting that the work product was completed on time and budget, clarify and have the client affirm that the deliverable solved a significant problem or captured a significant opportunity. Don't let your work inadvertantly be undervalued.

Tip: Your job as a consultant is to improve the client's condition. Don't leave it to chance that they fully realize that you created real value. If you don't manage their expectations and conclusions, you run the risk of them thinking that you just "delivered work."

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  client service  customer understanding  disengagement  engagement management  interpretation  referrals 

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