On behalf of one of my clients, I’ve been in commercial negotiations recently with a software vendor. We’ve been through a rigorous selection process to choose the software. We’ve prodded them, we’ve kicked the tyres on the software and we’ve almost got the T-shirt. All was going well and everyone was happy. Doesn’t sound like buying a software program does it?
Then I reiterated to the salesman, once again, that this project was critical to the client and we could not tolerate any slippage in the timelines as that would have severe repercussions to the client’s business. The salesman looked at me, eyeball to eyeball, very sincerely as salesman do, and said….
….“Don’t worry. We’ll go the extra mile to make sure there’s no slippage.”
I don’t know about you but when someone tells me not to worry, I worry. His response was about as comforting as Corporal Jones in Dads Army shouting “Don’t panic”.
And anyway what did he mean? What was this extra mile? Why was it an extra mile? Was it a mile that he wouldn’t have travelled if I hadn’t specifically pushed him to commit to travelling it? Needless to say, things went downhill rapidly from there.
Reflecting on it later, I realised that he was only doing what many businesses increasingly do which is the bare minimum to satisfy the customer. It seems that whilst corporate hyperbole is in overdrive and companies keep telling us how passionate they are about serving customers, this has been an inverse relationship with actually satisfying the customer. Fortunately the British public is getting better at complaining and demanding its rights from suppliers. But actually all we want as customers is that companies do what they say they will do efficiently, honestly and in a timely manner. If they did that they could save millions of pounds of branding, marketing and advertising spend telling us about their passion for software or hair care or pet food.
But I can’t see that happening any time soon so for the time being I will continue to ask suppliers to go the extra mile and to be on the safe side I will also worry. But, suppliers out there, please don’t tell me not to worry. To paraphrase Basil Fawlty, I don’t pay you to tell me not to worry.