Recently we had a “past client” come back and accuse us of overselling them and of “setting them up wrong”.
This was quite an opportunity.
As can be expected, I have to maintain anonymity, so I can’t disclose the details, but I will share a few lessons and observations from this experience.
Of course, it is always difficult when you care so much and you work so hard to earn trust to have negative experience like this. I can see that it has really had an emotional impact on those of us that were involved. This is solid evidence for me that we do sincerely care about our clients, even after they leave us and I believe we’re living by our first “Pod Rule”:
“We will value our customers’ businesses as if they were our own. We will never neglect to appreciate how important IT is to a business, and how heartbreaking the loss of a business can be to the families that rely on them (owners, employees, customers).”
This experience was also a really solid test of what we deliver. I know that we don’t intentionally oversell customers, but when this issue was first brought to my attention, I wondered if we had gotten too excited about technology? We were questioned HARD about our recommendations in this case. It has turned out to be a very enlightening and affirming opportunity. We are normally very busy and we don’t have a lot of time to spend doing a post mortem on every project, but being forced to go back in very fine detail and defend ourselves really illuminates the quality and value of our work. Of course, with technology, there are 101 different ways to do anything so I’m still not sure the client is wondering if we stretched things a little (we didn’t). However, we did clarify many misunderstandings and the bomb has been disarmed.
This is a huge relief of course. When someone complains, I naturally worry that it is valid and we screwed up (and, of course, sometimes we do and have to face the consequences). I said to the guys during this process, “Every business gets complaints. Isn’t it nice that we get so few and that we can usually defend ourselves by simply correcting a misunderstanding?”
Lastly, I’m thankful for this as it has allowed us to really take some time to pat ourselves on the back with how great we really are – nobody does that enough. As difficult as it has been to have a good situation turn bad, it is great to feel validated about what we do for our clients.