In my Hunter series, “Sandbox ‘Hunters’ Game Plan“, I talked about the importance of having an “insider” among your clients/customers. One of our clients recently experienced a nightmare, but fortunately they had a couple of great “insiders.” The client has served an automotive OEM for many years, and has enjoyed a true partner-type relationship. This past year, team members in our client’s internal quality control system discovered that a major assumption in their work was wrong, and it had resulted in some incorrect conclusions/data being provided to the OEM. Once they were certain of the facts, they immediately informed the OEM and began to redo their work at no cost to the client.
If that wasn’t bad enough, a few weeks later the ultimate catastrophe struck. Unbeknownst to our client and their immediate client contact, the OEM’s CEO was using the incorrect conclusion from their work as the basis for a presentation he was scheduled to make on the world stage of the New York International Auto Show. The good news is that the erroneous conclusion was discovered before the inaccurate facts were presented at the auto show. The bad news is that, at the last minute, the Hollywood-type presentation, with all its glitz and glamour, had to be significantly modified.
No, I’m not kidding. You’re probably ahead of me at this point, and you’re correct: The CEO wasn’t at all happy about the situation. (Actually, I would love to know what he said.)
After a very tense week filled with awkward conversations, the storm blew over. Based on what I know, our client’s insiders are the main reason they survived. Whew!
So, I ask again: Do you have an insider among each one of your major clients/customers?
We never know when a storm will strike.
p.s. This story has some other teaching points, such as confirming the value of providing outstanding service to a client over an extended period of time, and informing clients immediately when a potentially disastrous situation is discovered.