I just read "El Cliente Nunca Tiene Razon" (The Client is Never Right) by Tamara Di Tella. I think it's only printed in Spanish but if you can get your hands on a copy, it's worth the read.
It's a quick read and full of interesting ideas contrary to how we've been trained to think of our customers.
Tamara's main point: Clients are NEVER right. They don't know or understand your business, so catering to their whining and demands is a terrible mistake.
As the title suggests, she talks a lot about relationships with clients, but it's more than just that. It's more about growth and innovation in business exploring many of her own enlightening examples.
Matias Dutto recently wrote about the book and describes the client experience in his business which got me thinking about how it applies in the staffing world.
"A classic example of what happened to me (when starting my business) - and I swear I will never do it again, was 'always doing what the client wants.' Error Number 1! Back up against the wall and a loss of time and money. FAIL!"
Same goes for recruiting. Allowing clients (hiring companies) to handle the interview process and call all the shots along the way, doing what they want, when they want, almost always leads to failure. And when you are in a business like contingency recruiting and your efforts are only paid for a successful hire, you have to set expectations with your clients and manage the process. It's the best for you, your clients, and your candidates.
In Matias's post, he describes the three types of clients - It's applicable to all types of businesses.
Client 1: The clients who think they're right.
Client 2: The clients who are convinced they're right and act intolerable.
Client 3: The clients who want to learn, be innovative and strive to make their projects interesting and memorable.
Client 1 is inevitable. This is the client who listens, but always throws in opinions, excuses, and objections.
Client 2 is, well, ughhh... This type is very recognizable and, unfortunately, far too common. The type that drives you crazy and and will make you feel bad at all costs. The client who doesn't respect your business, who doesn't play by the rules, who constantly cuts you out of the loop, making moves without consulting first, who hands out searches with no intention of actually filling it, or, in the worst cases, who fights tooth and nail to find some way to not pay you, is just not worth it.
If you don't want to play nice, then I don't want to play. Simple. I don't care how much money this client could bring the business if a position is filled. It's just not worth it.
Client 3 is the type we all hope for - the client who says, "I need your help, I understand the value a good recruiter brings to our business, and, if I cooperate, I know filling this position with you will be much less costly than trying to fill it on my own." But, as Matias pointed out, this is more of a partner than a client.
Life would sure be easy if every client could be part of category 3, but that's just an impossible and unreasonable expectation. Instead of wishful thinking and wasted wishes, a better use of time is to focus on eliminating those in category 2 and finding clients who behave - if not for your own sanity- for the sanity of your team.
I don't believe the client is never right. Most times there is no right or wrong, rather a divergence of opinion between the client and the vendor. But I do truly believe client #3, the client who causes 95% of the problems in the organization, just isn't worth the trouble. Politely decline to do business and refer them to your competition.
If you can find this book, I highly recommend it, particularly for those in the service business. It's full of little lessons and funny stories easily found in any business. You'll probably be able to relate to both sides - inside the business and as being that pesky client!
Tamara Di Tella blog