Apathy, then Acceptance

In my business, clients are far less educated on our services (and how things work in general) than they should be. I know, you're saying that's true of just about any industry, but I've noticed it far more in this one than anywhere else. And yet, that doesn't seem to be stop them from making specific demands and requests that are directly sabotaging to their project outcomes, even though I've warned them countless times.

But alas, as they say, "The customer is always right."

Except that the customer is actually wrong most of the time, but my current company's culture -- I even dare say that it's a mandate directly from the CEO -- is one of:

"Do whatever the customer wants, even if it's detrimental to their position. And even if it means somewhat giving up our integrity."

Part of the motivation is the way our pricing structure works: much like a law firm, we charge for every paperwork/documentation action that we undergo on behalf of the client. So if the present submission is imperfect, prompting a kickback from the authorities, then that requires additional work on our part ... and that requires additional funds from the customer for us to do this work.

In essence, submitting something that is almost guaranteed to come back again actually adds to our bottom lines (and, indirectly, to our individual paycheques). In all truth, 95% of the projects we handle would come back anyway, whether we did it to our most exacting standards or to the customers' ignoramus ones. But following client wishes is what turns a two-action project into a five-action ordeal. Funny thing is, even the customers are happy to pay us for every document action we process.

From the above, one would expect that most employees just keep their mouths shut and trudge along with the company culture, because everybody wins, right?

But, see, I operate differently here. I question ideas and processes, scoff at things that don't make sense, and for all this boat-rocking, I'm not so loved. In fact, I'll bet that my division in the company (where we all kind of rebel against this status quo) is somewhat frowned upon by others.

[shrug] Sooner or later, the fight in me will subside, the sparkle fade from my eyes, and I will become a drone in the machine that is this firm. But hopefully, I'll be able to save myself from this drowning before that happens.


Anonymous said...

I would think they would be more appreciative of your questioning -- some would even chalk it as risk management, think things through with the end result of having less adjustments to make because you've anticipated worse case scenarios. But hey, if your clients and part of your company's motivation (mandate? ^_~) is to not care, it's difficult to counter that.

In the job I left, some of our internal clients were the worse -- ignorant fools. The low point was having one woman going into hysterics, screaming and throwing temper tantrums because she did not want to hear the risks or flaws in putting together and improving the product. I hope you never have to encounter that in a client.


Ben said...

Aliasa! Unfortunately, I've had clients like that before, and continue to have a few. The (unofficial) corporate stance seems to be to "just do what they want" and to keep our other thoughts to ourselves. Shame, really.