There’s a running joke in my house to do with bats, the 3rd eldest of my girls is a teeny bit obsessed that she is Batman. Whenever we are out and about and see someone wearing the Bat motif we joke about how they’re not the real Batman (be they 4 or 40). Only she can be the real thing as she does not overtly display the fact (much!!). “I’m Batman” is her refrain in the husky voice of the Bat and we being her family always back her up. That is, until today as I am now about to rock her world, steal her thunder and generally move into Wayne Manor as I reveal to the world that in fact…
And more to the point, there’s nothing that either she, Lucius Fox or Jim Gordon can do about it.
The truth is, I’ve been hiding this fact for quite some time. So what is it that leads me to this rather controversial conclusion I hear you ask. Well like Batman I’m tall, with pointy ears and I’m agile to the extreme, I do as it happens live alone in a sprawling mansion with a dodgy piano, a sarcastic butler and have a very large underground cave built by generations before me. Ah no wait, I think I may have imbibed one of those darn weaponised hallucinogens again.
But seriously, I am Batman, at least to some of our clients. I have lost count of the number of times that we have had clients contact us with a problem that to them is seemingly insurmountable. The problem generally runs along these lines. They have a fabulous idea of a way to make their business amazing. It can be the central tenet of their entire business or it may be a tiny facet to a large very organisation. They have normally entered with gusto into a software solution with a larger and less interested software house who initially made all the right sounds:-
- cooing at the brilliance of the clients idea,
- using buzzwords that the client has heard but maybe doesn’t understand
- full of tales of previous amazing conquests
- making the client feel the centre of the world.
But this gloss soon wears thin as the timescales stretch endlessly into the future with few of the features requested being implemented, and those that are not being implemented in the manner that was envisioned. Quite often there is an agenda as far as the technology itself is concerned and this can act as a brake on development and sometimes there just is not the expertise in house. The relationships becomes strained and both sides cease to see each others point of view. The hired software vendor loses interest in the client and the client loses faith in the software house.
And this is where we come in, as Rachel says to Bruce Wayne
“Its not who we are underneath, but what we do that defines us”
There’s a huge amount of satisfaction to be gained from taking a wounded client under our cape, soothing their wounds and restoring their faith in software vendors. How do we do this? Is it the technology within the bat cave that allows us to do this? Well, not entirely….
- We listen. Bats need to to understand the overall shape of what is to be achieved. There are always constraints which we need to adhere to, there are always methodologies to be followed and of course there are always personalities to understand.
- Bats don’t judge what has gone before. Its just not relevant. Point scoring is easy but not required as the client has already come to us. We do however need to build a gap analysis between “the here and now” and what is required. This can seem critical but it’s really not.
- Bats analyse…….. Honestly! Taking all of the information at our disposal we then ascertain if we are able to help, or if we need more information. We lay the solutions out for the client and talk them through the routes available to them.
- Bats analyse some more. they love analysis!!! This provides a blueprint for transparency in the development process to come.
- Bats communicate. For one thing it builds trust, and secondly the client is always aware of what is happening with regards to their project.
- Bats “Do”. They don’t like just hanging around….errrrrr.
I firmly believe that there should never be an agenda when dealing with clients. We should strive to be straight down the line at all times representing the best interests of the client whenever possible. Only through this level of honesty and integrity do you build the trust and relationships that survive not just one project but many projects over many years. Making the sale, whilst being important, is a lot of effort to go through for just one project when in fact there may be many more opportunities within your grasp if you just treat the customer right in the first instance. It baffles me why so many other software companies fail to appreciate this fact but then I guess this thinking stretches far beyond just our industry doesn’t it.
And for all of you Jokers out there who ask “Why So Serious?”
The answer is simple…. I’m Batman!