When the new client honeymoon is over

honeymoon

When the new client honeymoon is over.

 

Oh, it ain’t no fun no more
I don’t know what to say,
The honeymoon is over baby,
It’s never going to be that way, again.

  • The Honeymoon is Over, The Cruel Sea

 

When a client moves from their old service provider to the new, there is a “honeymoon” period when the new provider can’t do anything wrong.

Everything is bright and shiny. The new software is faster and smarter. The customer service is friendlier and much more helpful. Even the account manager seems to be everywhere and is anticipating problems before anyone else can.

This is to be expected. If things were so good with the old provider, why would the client have moved in the first place? Management should have assessed both the incumbent and the alternatives against reasonable criteria, and testing in real world conditions should have been undertaken as part of the implementation process.

From the service providers, there has been weeks, months or even years of preparation. The onboarding process has been meticulously planned, and the IT has been bedded down and stress tested. The new business team is excited, and usually the whole company is buzzing. “Customer X starts Monday!”

While there may be some initial resistance from the client’s operational staff, this is quite quickly overcome. Generally speaking, operational staff dislike change and prefer to perform tasks in the tried and true method. If management at your client has been proactive, then the operational staff may have been part of the decision that ought to help smooth things over.

The sun will be shining, and the donuts and coffee are liberally spread throughout the organisation.

But then, after a week or two, the gloss may start to come off the new service. This can be due to two related critical factors: habit and a short memory.

Habit

People will very quickly adapt to the new system. The changes are no longer frightening, and they may have discovered a few shortcuts.

The new system is now the standard operating procedure. People are familiar with the colours and the processes. They have formed relationships with customer support and have eaten enough donuts that the account manager doesn’t bring them anymore.

The fact that “process X” takes 3 seconds is something people have become accustomed to. A new workflow has formed around the new system and the new service provider. A high level of service has been set, and the expectation is that this will continue.

Short Memory

The old system fades into the past. The quirks and workarounds that were part of daily life might be something people remember, but as each new task replaces an old one that memory dims.

“Was the old system that bad?”

Suddenly, when something unexpected occurs, it’s just a bad thing. This didn’t happen before. With our previous provider, everything was peachy all the time.

“Yes, customer service is quick, but I don’t remember calling them this often.”

I work in logistics, and an example of this may be the following:

Client – “We always used to receive a delivery at 1030, and the new driver doesn’t get here until 1115”.

Me – “Yes, but your previous service took two days, and we’re delivering next day”.

Client – “But 1115 is too late!”

The difficult second album

Often it is a challenge for a band to back up the success of their first album. They spent years practicing and crafting each song for their debut and then they are sent back to the studio for a few months to do it all again.

The best way to continue the honeymoon is to do what Nirvana did. Make your second album way better than the first. How can you make your client feel like you just dropped “Nevermind” on them?

One key to overcoming the loss of gloss is to reboot the honeymoon. After a couple of weeks of bedding in and full attention, go back and do everything again.

Retrain, reboot and refresh. Back to the studio with renewed vigor.

Send your onboarding team back out on the road and get them face to face with the people who may have started to fall out of love with you. You may be excused for not taking donuts and coffee, but take that new attitude from two weeks ago with you.

Another option is to send the other onboarding team in. This may be management or a different group of people. Everyone in your organisation has a slightly different set of skills and experience. Use them all!

Keep buying flowers

Always keep the relationship fresh. Don’t fall into a routine of accepting things as they are. A colleague of mine refers to this process as “continuous implementation”. Every day is a new day and there always processes with room for improvement.

Ensure your client is as special to you on day 50 as they were on day 1. We can be in this together for a good time AND a long time. Sure, it takes work, but for most business models retention cost is much cheaper than acquisition cost.

The result of your good work can be a honeymoon period that goes on forever. This is a win for you, and a win for your clients.

 

 

P.S. The quote at the top of the post is from The Cruel Sea – the full song can be found below.

Do not check work email outside of business hours

email after hours

Do not check work email outside of business hours

If you work in a job where you have to be contactable outside of business hours because if something happens you can actually do something to make it better then stop reading now.

Otherwise, for the other 99% of us, let me relate a personal story.

A couple of weeks ago, I accidentally checked my email after work hours. I don’t know why I did it. It was a relapse.

There was only one email there and it was a customer with something that could be interpreted as “bad news”. My heart rate went up and I felt really worried about the bad news. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do anything, except forward the email to a colleague. The work required to identify whether the email was “bad news” couldn’t be done until I was in the office the next morning.

Went to bed late, woke up at 2. Didn’t get back to sleep until 6. 

The next morning my colleague and I decided it wasn’t bad news. We worked for a couple of hours and established the bad news was not bad news. Everything was ok. But now I was just tired…

Fast forward to that night. Because I am a slow learner I checked my email again. And guess what? “Bad news” from a supplier about the same customer as the night before. Email colleague, stress, go to bed, wake up in the middle of the night, get two hours sleep. 

Next morning – it’s ok. The “bad news” was just my misinterpretation of the data. 

I’m still trying to catch up on the 8 hours sleep I missed.

Do not, ever, check your email outside of business hours.

If you cannot do anything about the content of an email then don’t read it.

When you check work email outside of business hours you risk causing yourself stress at a time when you can not doing anything to alleviate it.

Let’s work through the typical excuses for checking email outside of business hours:

It might be important. Yes, it might be. But if you can’t do anything about it until business hours you’re just increasing your stress levels.

I am important. The more important you are, the more important it is that you are performing at your optimum level at work. Reading business emails, when there’s nothing you can do until business hours, has the potential to cause stress and anxiety. Use your time away from work to relax, recharge and get ready to face the working day.

It might be urgent. Email is not for urgent situations. If you have a mobile phone, make it known you will answer it. In an urgent situation, take the call and deal with the situation.

Checking work email after hours is often something people do in their idle moments whilst itching their phones. My ongoing temptation to check work email is one reason why I no longer access email on my phone. There is a feeling that simply by reading email we are somehow working. By reading an email we are doing something.

For most of us, this isn’t true. We are reading email and by doing so have completed the task of reading email.

In my day job, business is pretty much contained in 9-5. Mostly. I check email at 12 and at 4 daily and an email autoresponder lets people know this and advises they call me when urgent. I ripped this idea from the four-hour workweek and more information can be found here.

I’ve found that this removes the expectation from co-workers, suppliers and customers that I will be checking my email outside of business hours.

After deleting my mail from my phone, setting my iPad to “fetch” instead of “push” I have found that it actually requires me to consciously and deliberately check my email. This creates a big enough psychological gap for me to be able to stop and think “no!”.

My evenings and weekends are a little bit more relaxed. I am mentally and physically present with my friends and family, and my work hasn’t suffered.

If you’re keen to try it, let me know how it goes.

Get coached on Coach.me

Zero down time deployment explained

When your tech guys (who might now call themselves DevOps) start banging on about zero down time deployment, this is what they mean:

– Instead of shutting down your system for hours, making changes and then bringing everything back up online, they make changes to the live environment and no one notices.

– It’s exactly like being at the cinema when the movie is longer than a single reel. There is a seamless transition from one reel to the next. The movie doesn’t stop. No one notices.

Zero down time deployment is such a huge win for tech guys and businesses alike. No more monumental releases over the weekend when everyone has to work 48 hours straight, no more late night offline changes. We can make incremental changes (deployments) during the day and all those little changes (should) add up to a better service for the customer.

Categories ITTags

The Cloud – explained in 300 words

cloud explained“Nobody understands the cloud” – Jason Segel, Sex Tape

Give me three hundred words, and you will.

Single computer:

Start by looking at your computer. You can reach out and touch it. You might be able to access this computer remotely, but it’s always one computer. When the computer is running at maximum capacity it will slow down and may stop working. If your computer can’t handle the workload you have to go and get a better one.

Local Server:

Many offices overcome this by having a “server”. A server is a bigger computer sitting in another room in the building. You can walk into the room and see this server. The server has more power than one single computer. Lots of people access the server at the same time and you may be able to access this from outside the building. When the server is running at maximum capacity it will slow down and may stop working. If the servers can’t handle the workload you have to go and get more or replace them with better ones.

Hosted Server:

Many businesses don’t have their own servers. Their servers are sitting in someone else’s building. If you’re allowed, you can visit this building and see your servers. You should be able to access these servers from anywhere. When the servers sitting in someone else’s building are running at maximum capacity they will slow down and may stop working. If the hosted server can’t handle the workload you have to pay for someone to go and get better ones.

The Cloud:

The servers are sitting in someone else’s buildings. You don’t know which servers are being used by you and it doesn’t matter. When the servers look like they are potentially approaching capacity they will be start using space on other servers. It doesn’t matter how much computer power you need, there is always more capacity and you only pay for what you use.