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A Cautionary Tale of Carelessness and Ignorance

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I’m pissed.

I’m absolutely frustrated by companies that have the power to drastically change the direction of another company and don’t do their part to educate their client.

Let me explain.

Last week one of our clients emailed me and asked if we could help with the transition of their website to one that a vendor had created for them.

We were contacted on Monday by the account manager asking if we had the password to the site to get it live. After a little clarification, we sorted out what was needed. It was a bit strange that they didn’t know what needed to happen to launch the site. I chalked it up to a nontechnical team member doing what they could to keep the ball moving forward.

Fast forward 24 hours we get the ok from the vendor to update on our end and launch the site. We throw the switch and begin to look at the new site they’ve created.

I’ll spare the technical details, all I can say is that it left me upset.

Our client had been working hard for the last 18 months to grow their online presence. They created content and drove good organic traffic to their site.

They had hundreds of pages indexed in Google. The site had good structure, and technical details were all in place.

The new site was completely void of any of these technical details. Google would remove the indexed pages shortly after the site launch. Any links that previously existed would show up as broken, or that the content doesn’t exist.

In short, it would torpedo months of dedicated work and a site that had been in place for over a decade.

All of this was about to be thrown away because….

  • Was it because they were under a deadline to get the project up?

  • Were they over budget and weren’t willing to stick it out?

  • Did they not know the impact of what was happening?

  • Did they not care?

What I do know is that I got an email forwarded from the CEO with a series of excuses that this was expected to happen, they didn’t even complete things yet but they would. Which was followed up with a multiple page email about how we are disgruntled, and our site is terrible. Honestly, it was comical to read, but I feel sad about it at the same time.

Our job as a consultant is far beyond just creating the thing. The website or the app is part of it.

The core of everything we do is to manage expectations. Imagine if everyone is on the same page with what it will cost, how long it will take, and who needs to do what. What is left to do at that point? I’ll tell you, just get the work done. It’s not rocket science.

If the expectations aren’t communicated it immediately begins to erode trust. Your client is looking to you to be the expert, tell them what to do and why.

If you need it, I’m giving you permission to be opinionated. Being in the upper midwest some times I think we confuse having an opinion with being arrogant. That isn’t the case at all you can have an opinion, respect others input and collaborate. But they are looking for you for direction. You need to lead with your experience.

I use this as a cautionary tale. Our client didn’t know the right questions to ask. They didn’t fully understand the impact of the changes the vendor was recommending. They trusted.

And that is the key when someone puts their trust in you as an expert; they are trusting your expertise, sometimes even blindly.

This isn’t meant to be a holier than thou speech. I’ve had my fair share of mistakes and missteps. I know I’ve dropped the ball and caused frustrations or even setbacks because of a lack of communication over the last nine years.

But at the end of the day what is worse? Carelessness or Ignorance?