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Topics: Communications Management
Tough Customer
What to do when the customer agrees with you separately on specific topics but then brings it up as an escalation in front of executives? If I say "we already discussed" or "as informed previously", won't it look like I am letting my customer down in front of her bosses? I don't want to look like I am not doing my job either. How would you handle this scenario?
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Maria -

Sounds like you need to have a 1:1 with the customer to get a better understanding of why they are behaving in this manner and to make sure they are aware of the impact it is having on you. Hopefully you can come to an agreement on the "rules of engagement" moving forward.

Kiron
Thanks for your response Kiron. I just now had a 1:1 and my customer smiles saying "yes you clarify to the executives". Hmmm...this is an unexpected experience. MoM for my earlier meeting - i didn't do them :( . "rules of engagement" - i should definitely define this and come to an agreement.
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1 reply by Kiron Bondale
Jul 16, 2020 2:47 PM
Kiron Bondale
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Whenever you have a very critical stakeholder on a project, it is always good to define mutually agreeable working agreements before things get underway so you have some basis for discussion if they behave in an unexpected manner.

Kiron
Jul 16, 2020 10:37 AM
Replying to Maria Lekha Johnson
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Thanks for your response Kiron. I just now had a 1:1 and my customer smiles saying "yes you clarify to the executives". Hmmm...this is an unexpected experience. MoM for my earlier meeting - i didn't do them :( . "rules of engagement" - i should definitely define this and come to an agreement.
Whenever you have a very critical stakeholder on a project, it is always good to define mutually agreeable working agreements before things get underway so you have some basis for discussion if they behave in an unexpected manner.

Kiron
Completely agree. Well said.
Thank you for your responses, Kiron :)
Hello Kiron- This was also a wake-up call for me to be engaged in PM community. Too many times we PMs are too busy with work and forget to be engaged with our fellow community. We end up working in silos, completely changing the workstyle to fit to client needs, we forget the simple basics of PM and end up in tough situations. It was tough today but I was happy about your responses :) It helped. Thank you once again :)
My way of working and living is based on trust. For me, trust is speed. "Everyone is innocent until proven otherwise". But with the first minimum fact which demonstrate to me the contrary then I switch to mode "what is not written does not exist" . As Kiron mentioned, first of all I put this on the table because in my land we say "he who warns is not a traitor".
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1 reply by Maria Lekha Johnson
Jul 17, 2020 5:10 AM
Maria Lekha Johnson
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"what is not written does not exist" - so true.
Jul 16, 2020 4:05 PM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
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My way of working and living is based on trust. For me, trust is speed. "Everyone is innocent until proven otherwise". But with the first minimum fact which demonstrate to me the contrary then I switch to mode "what is not written does not exist" . As Kiron mentioned, first of all I put this on the table because in my land we say "he who warns is not a traitor".
"what is not written does not exist" - so true.
Good experience, Maria.
What will you do different from now on?

My interpretation is that having agreed on a joint strategy before each steering committee would be good, as also stated by Kiron. It is part of stakeholder engagement. Establish common purpose and mutual trust for each meeting.
In one case, a customer asked me to escalate above him so he has an argument to take special measures.

Since the customer let you down (gave you bad feelings), I would discuss this event openly and ask if they would be interested to join forces in the future. Also find out why they did this, maybe just a show of force out of insecurity to show executives they are in control (though dumb).

Now
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1 reply by Maria Lekha Johnson
Jul 20, 2020 11:15 AM
Maria Lekha Johnson
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Thanks for your valuable response, Thomas. I will use these as also the "rules of engagement" as stated by Kiron. One thing I see is that this Covid season is bringing out both the worst and the best in humans.
Jul 18, 2020 6:24 AM
Replying to Thomas Walenta
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Good experience, Maria.
What will you do different from now on?

My interpretation is that having agreed on a joint strategy before each steering committee would be good, as also stated by Kiron. It is part of stakeholder engagement. Establish common purpose and mutual trust for each meeting.
In one case, a customer asked me to escalate above him so he has an argument to take special measures.

Since the customer let you down (gave you bad feelings), I would discuss this event openly and ask if they would be interested to join forces in the future. Also find out why they did this, maybe just a show of force out of insecurity to show executives they are in control (though dumb).

Now
Thanks for your valuable response, Thomas. I will use these as also the "rules of engagement" as stated by Kiron. One thing I see is that this Covid season is bringing out both the worst and the best in humans.

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