I work in the service industry.  I am a service provider.  Just like the wait-staff in a restaurant.  Our industries have more in common that might first come to mind. 

Do you remember a time when you were at a restaurant, and your meal was taking forever, and the staff wasn’t coming to you to update you about your meal?  You sit there and fume, trying to get their attention.  As time wears on, you get more and more upset until you tell yourself that you’re going to give a lousy tip and never come back. 

Compare that to a time when your wait-staff came to your table a couple of times to tell you that the chef is now working on your meal, maybe they made a mistake and had to start your meal over.  Maybe you had a special request that they hadn’t noticed.  You’re told again shortly that your meal should be right out. 

In both cases, the meal takes longer to arrive at your table than normal, but the two experiences are vastly different.  In one case there is a complete lack of communication, and in the second case you’re well-informed.  You, as the client feel much better with the second experience. 

This really isn’t about keeping to your schedule.  It’s about maintaining good communications no matter what. 

In the service industry, we have to put ourselves in our client’s shoes. 

I have a friend who likes to say that it isn’t our project; it’s our client’s project.  You have to think about that one for a while.

Contrast that to a notion that I’ve come across a couple of times where a colleague comments that there is still budget remaining in your project.  And if you don’t use that budget, you’ll be leaving money on the table.  What an awful way to think.  It’s hard to think that a consultant could even survive in the industry with an attitude like that.  

In short, treat your client/customer as you would wish to be treated, and everyone should be happier. 

If the customer’s chicken-fried steak is going to be late… speak up.  It helps. 

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