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#280: The Customer is Always Right. Really?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, April 9, 2010
Updated: Friday, April 9, 2010
The client is the one who pays the bill and I am being asked to solve the problem they see, not the ones I see. However, I have to say that a fair number of times I really believe the client is dead wrong on facts or conclusions. Is it my job to tell them they are wrong?

Our responsibility as management consultants is to provide independent and objective advice based on our expertise and experience. To withhold information or our best professional judgment is to fail in our professional responsibilities.

Are there times during which it is inappropriate to tell a client all you know? Of course, such as when a group is working through an issue and the experience of getting to the answer and developing skills to do so is part of your charge.

However, we are sometimes faced with a strong-willed client who may be sure of "facts" or opinions and doesn't suffer fools gladly. It is important to inform your client that you are obliged to give him or her the facts as you know them (back them up) and perspective as an independent professional advisor. If your client is unwilling to hear

Tip: You don't have to disagree in public or be disrespectful, but you do need to provide your independent and objective expertise and tell what you know. The customer is usually, but not always right.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  advice  client relations  communication  consultant role  engagement management 

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Michael L. Wyland says...
Posted Saturday, April 10, 2010
Another reason to be candid about one's own perspective and conclusions: a consultant's reputation is built upon their body of work. I maintain that that body of work consists of successful client engagements. Doing what a client wants and having that effort result in (even relative) failure does the client no good and harms the consultant's practice.

In 20 years of consulting, I've never regretted walking away from the wrong client, but I've sometimes regretted *not* walking away.
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