There are two professions that I keep in mind when working with clients: home decoration and medicine. When you’re hired as a decorator the client trusts and values your judgement, or else they wouldn’t have hired you, but ultimately it’s their home. The decorator needs to advise and recommend, but also respect that the client is the one paying and the one who will live day in and day out in the home.
This used to be the sole profession that I kept in mind when at times I’ve desired to be more forcefull than perhaps was warranted.
But in the past few months I’ve started to think about how doctors interact with their patients. It’s the patient’s body, after all, but doctors can be pretty strong willed. If you walk in and ask for antibiotics or pain killers because of a self diagnosis, no doctor in his right mind will pull out his script pad. In fact, most are kind of annoyed.
Doctors listen to what patients have to say, offer a diagnosis and course of treatment, and then it is left to the patient to decide to move forward with the doctor or chose another partitioner. This is because doctors care about the long term health of the patient. Just doing what the patient asks for could make them more sick in the long run, and they’ll just end up leaving you. If you just do what the patient or client asks for, without study, it actually makes you more likely to lose them. In fact, just doing what clients or patients want, because they want it, is the absence of service.
And so there is a delicate balance between decorating and doctoring. Decorating is a proxy for respect and listening about needs and tastes, and doctoring is responsibility and longevity. Clients may often leave professionals because they don’t get along, but perhaps more often the results aren’t good. And often, results aren’t good because the professional lacked conviction. In such cases, the professional throws his hands in the air and says, “The client didn’t listen to me! It’s the clients fault.” But isn’t it really the professionals fault? If the client pushed for a failed direction, isn’t it the essence of professionalism and sector skill to say, “we can’t do that it won’t work.”
And so now I think about two professions, and I think a balance between the two works for most client service industries.