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Friday, May 18, 2012

There Are No “Do Overs” When It Comes To Clients.

No client wants a new person working on their project. Absolutely reliable and unflinching in their execution.  That is what is expected, because that is what sold them on doing work in your house.  It does not matter that staff turnover in your lab has been on the rise since your competitor has been poaching your good talent.  After all, that contract was signed weeks before the exodus began and there is no way to explain that your team isn’t ready.  Despite the short term rehearsal, it will become quickly evident that your staff has not gelled.  This will be most evident when it is “crunch time” [always with a client present].  When the error occurs it will be difficult to explain it through your reddened face. 
Compare this to your visit to a restaurant.  When your steak dinner arrives with a well done steak instead of medium rare, who got it wrong?  Was it the waiter who took the order down wrong, was it the chef who left it on the grill too long? Was it the sous chef who assembled the order? Or was it the waiter again who did not check the finished order vs. what was ordered? Just like you the waiter is embarrassed that the system did not work as designed, someone screwed up and you want it fixed.  Your guest is inconvenienced.  When the guests come to town again they will probably choose another restaurant. In order to immediately address the problem, your order gets re-submitted, the kitchen increases the order’s priority in line and someone else’s order gets bumped or in many cases, their order is rushed through and thereby risking the accuracy of that order.  The same is true in your laboratory: if the process is not followed correctly and has to be re-done/re-analyzed/re-processed, it will be rescheduled (if you are fortunate) at a time that is neither convenient for you or your other clients.
Because so many people have a role in the process (at both the restaurant and your lab), it is not easy to say that it was a one-time event.  There are a great deal of double-checks in place and the thing that was missing most in either process was a single responsible person to ensure everyone was executing their role as prescribed.   The client does not care.  You promised this, but delivered that.  When it comes time to choosing your lab vs. another on the next go round, this incident, no matter how low of an impact on the final result, will be a factor in that determination. While I have heard many clients explain that errors happen in their lab too, they are risking their reputations more when an external check is going to be written.  The next time your double soy decaf macchiato turns out not to be decaf, you will likely carefully choose which coffee house stop at on the way to work.  The same is true for your clients.  Will they come back?

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