07 Jan

The Art of Loving Your Client

Author: 
Time2Know
The Art of Loving Your Client

 

“We have come to value … Individuals and Interaction over Processes and Tools.
~ The Agile Manifesto

This article is a precious part of the hybris Project Patterns series.

Let me introduce The Client.

That would be the One who is daring to change their organization in attempt to improve vital business processes. That is a person or a team of Corporate pioneers, who decides to pursue a vision towards renewing their present software landscape. The Client has initiated a challenging project and has engaged You to guide them in succeeding with this exciting endeavor.

And it is You – possessing all the necessary skills to support that venture and transform the Client’s vision into a fruitful realization.

But how to start with your Client?

Problem

Being passive, powerless to guide, unable to adapt upon change, failing to understand, inattentive – all deceptive consulting habits, which stand in the way of building the much desired chemistry with the Client.

Guideline

Learn to know the Client. Guide with knowledge and patience. Listen to understand, before prescribing a solution. Keep things simple. Deliver tangible results in short frequent rounds. Be loyal, agile and loving.

Related patterns

Core Values of a Functional ConsultantOverall Consulting, hybris Functional Consultant, Workshop, Domain Methodology, Software Methodology, Requirements Gathering, Platform Expectations, Communication, Business User Enablement 

 

Starting a Relationship

Working with a Client is like building a relationship.

All is set into motion with the first contact and the mental preparation for it. The initial gathering is a medium to present yourself and establish a level of faith to continue ahead. Every next meeting is only a confirmation that the new bond exists and evolves. The relationship with the Client gets stronger with every contact, workshop, communication and achievement.

 

When engaged with a Client, I chose to follow 3 simple ethics:

Know, KISS and Love.

Through the years I have learned that applying those principles creates solidness and trust, centeredness and reliability. With those at hand I feel comfortable to approach any commercial project and apply the patterns that are presented in this blog.

 

Know Your Client (better)

Early in a relationship arise the moments of knowing and understanding each other.

The Client expects the consulting party to comprehend their business and help them resolve the present-day difficulties. Understanding the drivers in the Client’s company – the corporate culture and maturity – allows a Consultant to integrate quickly and identify the way ahead. But knowing the business can be a long process, which takes serious proactivity and alertness.

The Client is often emotional about their upcoming software program. In the end it is the human nature to expect, to dream, and to believe that the “new” thing will bring some goodness and harmonization. Emotions and feelings charge the whole project from start to finish.

As a matter of fact, the English language recognizes around 3000 words about feelings, like happy, content, upset, blissful, moody, joyful, blue, peaceful … And their existence is justified to describe the myriad nuances of human emotions. Understanding and empathetically listening to at least a fraction of those is already a step forward towards effective communication with the Client.

So, you may say:

“.. Nothing new under the sun: listen and understand – how simple that could be?

Still, being a Consultant frequently brings you in the spot light – during a discussion or a workshop. You are supposed to explain, entertain, sketch, convince, present, draw and propose a way ahead. At some point of time, it becomes hard to actually make a pause and … listen. Listen with the intent to understand the other side.

 

Knowing starts with understanding. Understanding begins with listening.

The paradox is that a Consultant is supposed to talk and advice but, actually, a decent Consultant listens more, than actually speaks. Demonstrating listening and compassionate understanding opens the gate to mutual confidence and collaboration. A true comprehension of Client’s requirements leads to better definition of the solution and therefore, building the right level of expectations.

Essentially, only when establishing a level of trust one can prescribe a reliable solution, which can find soil for adoption.

 

Advising about how to utilize the hybris ecosystem, means first to understand what value it would bring in the context of the Client’s Organization. After the understanding comes the true advice.

It is for that reason that most of the hybris projects start with a phase of Understanding the Business. During that phase the Consultant should do a lot of listening in order to make an informed proposal.

And here is an interesting fact: listening with intent to understand often produces higher results in finding the best solution, because it allows you – as a Consultant – to think, collectively with the Client, outside the clichés and established rules – about alternatives and hidden opportunities, thus finding much better solution patterns.

 

KISS Your Client

In my practice, I have observed primarily two types of Clients:

The one who claims:

 I know what I want

and the other, who says:

I think I know what I want

In both cases, the Client expresses their requirements in a way, which reflects their corporate culture and existing working habits. Hence, together with the business people, validate that what is requested is indeed what is needed. It takes time, but it is time well invested.

To mitigate the complexities of a new project, introduce the KISS principle to your Client.

Keep It Simple, stupid” is a strategic attitude, which teaches us to keep things simple and avoid over-complications, when discussing the Client’s requirements. Therefore, guide the Client towards simplicity. It allows you both to start quickly and evaluate the results.

But simplicity demands proactivity. Left alone to find “the right way” and discover “the best solution” is a treacherous path for a Client. They know their business and needs very well, but they don’t necessary know the best ways to achieve their goals. To keep it simple, take the initiative yourself as well as the responsibility to make things happen.

In digital commerce, a simplicity often means to stay close to the platform: the hybris Suite bids a powerful set of features, which offer the Client rich omni-channel functionality and mature workflows. 

 

Simplicity will prove your capabilities as a Consultant in bringing rapid results during a project. It contributes to the common understanding when it comes to complex matters.   

Through this approach, prioritize and start small. This would let you keep a fast pace with visible outcome. With each production cycle, iterate and improve. Demonstrate your progress and request feedback. Applying your Domain- and Software Methodology will help you find the simplest path to the highest value.

 

Love Your Client

In a healthy relationship there comes the sublime moment of experiencing something more than knowing and understanding…

This is the moment when you listen with patience before advising and preaching. When you are capable of repeating over and over again the most suitable solution for the Client. That is when you care to challenge their demands 5 times by asking “Why?” in order to elicit the most rational decision. It culminates when you can give all of your energy to save the Client when seeing them fall.

 

Once loved and respected, the Client would be able to collaborate and prosper under your swift guidance. Transparency and confidence will flourish to result in a hearty business alliance.

For that, genuinely interact with the Client, explaining processes and tactics. Treat the Client as a valued partner, by promoting communication both ways. Make them feel as part of the creation team. Build trust – alert the Client about large-scale changes, good or bad. Empower the relationship with attention and passion.

 

It is known in Nature things thrive on energy. There is an order and progression towards evolution in the great chain of being.

In the physical development, some things just...

exist = rocks (minerals)

exist + grow = plants (flora)

exist + grow + move = animals (fauna)

In the mental development, however, other things...

exist + grow + move + think = human beings (Homo Sapiens)

In the spiritual development, there are those capable of thought, who can also...

exist + grow + move + think + experience enlightenment = the wise beings (Homo Numinous)

exist + grow + move + think + experience enlightenment + exhibit compassion = the loving beings (Homo Agapens)

When being in a relationship with a Client, we can choose which thing we want to be – a rock or a wise being. My personal choice would be to stay as high, as possible in the evolutionary ladder. As, in my opinion, only by being a loving being, you can bring the Client to greater levels of productivity, innovation and progress. The relationship evolves with each encounter and grows stronger in time. Expressing an attitude that involves compassion, transparency and love results in similar emotions towards you.

While starting a new venture with the Client always remember who they are for you, and who you are for them. In a healthy relationship, the Client will reflect – as a mirror – the loving being, which You truly are.

 

 
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~  What is your approach towards the Client? Please share it with the community ..  

 

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