A new client phoned last week to inquire about something on his demo site – with his brand new website slated to “go live” by month’s end. I was in the middle of fifteen things and the day was more than half over, so I was feeling pressed for time but took the call anyway… because, well… that’s what we do here!
In retrospect, it wasn’t fair to the client because I was not able to listen – I mean, really listen – and understand the issue from his perspective. I stress the latter part of that statement because that’s what business is all about: listening to comments and concerns, understanding needs and objectives, and providing solutions.
Though the client’s question wasn’t technical in nature, my answer was not what he wanted to hear. (When it comes to web platforms, browsers and the myriad of preferences and options possible for each site visitor, the answer is never what clients want to hear.) But I wasn’t listening. I was spouting geek-speak and not allowing myself to see the situation from the client’s perspective.
It was a mistake that I recognized and will try hard not to make again.
Lesson Learned: Clients aren’t always looking for the optimum answer because they know, deep down, that it’s not always possible… but clients will want you to really listen – and walk a few feet in their shoes.