I’m writing this post with NFL football pregame stuff on in the background. One video sequence focused on the importance of communication between players for the play call to work. It got me thinking about how frequently communication, good or bad, figures in the outcome of so many things.
In the football example, professional teams diagram, in detail, every player’s specific assignment for every single play, and then practice these plays exhaustively. Despite the quality and comprehensiveness of the preparation (that usually isn’t matched in business), it still comes down to how well the players communicate during the play.
Last night my wife Jennifer and I had a fabulous visit to Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania, about an hour’s drive from our home. We started our visit with a superb dinner at their on-site restaurant, 1906. The menu was prix fixe, and the first two courses as well as dessert were pre-determined. The only choices we had were entrees and drinks.
Shortly after we sat down to eat, a couple were seated nearby. They weren’t seated for long. They were dismayed to learn about the limitations to the menu, and complained that “nobody told us about this when we made the reservation”. Rather than stay and try what was on offer, they chose to leave, thereby missing out on an expertly-prepared, creative, and well thought out meal. Jennifer went so far as to say it was the best dessert she had ever had. For lack of communication, one set of diners missed out on it, and the restaurant lost a patron.
The other day I had a minor procedure on my left eye at the Wilmer Eye Institute. I knew nothing going in about the procedure except that it sounded like it could be very unpleasant. It came off well with no issues, although I was at the facility for over two hours. But that’s not what I will remember. The experience I had I will remember very positively due to how thoroughly and clearly Dr. Singh explained the why, the how, and the what of the procedure, as well as what I could expect over the ensuing few days and months. I’ve been fortunate so far in that there haven’t been any negative consequences, but if there are any to come I feel ready to deal with them very effectively due to Dr. Singh’s communication skills.
I got to thinking about how many times Dr. Singh has performed the same procedure over his years in practice. When you have dome something over and over for many years, it can be easy to skip parts of the process, including the communication part that is so very important to the client in this case. But Dr. Singh had the discipline and the empathy to understand how much it would have mattered to me, and he took the time to do it very well.
Executing warehouse automation projects offers plenty of opportunities for communication, or the lack of it, to determine the quality of the outcome in the mind of the client. We have seen times where everything is executed very well, except for the communication piece, and the client’s outlook was not as positive as it otherwise might have been. Conversely, there are projects where lots of challenges arose, but because of high quality communication, the challenges were met and the clients were very pleased with the result.
Most people can handle problems and bad news if they are dealt with honestly and effectively. Communicating too little information, being difficult to reach, being slow to respond, or communicating too late are prime ways to leave a bad taste in the client’s mouth.
At Pendant we pride ourselves on being responsive and communicating “too much”. The vast majority of the feedback we receive from clients is complimentary of our responsiveness. We see effective communication as a lubricant of sorts in projects where there are a lot of moving parts and lots of personalities. We’ll continue to train our team members to understand deeply how important it is for clients (internal and external) to have the information they need, when or before they need it, so that project outcomes exceed expectations going in.
A few years ago, we drafted a customer Bill of Rights. I hadn’t looked at it in a while, but I was pleased to recall these three items on the list:
You will have questions and concerns from time to time. Our team responds, even if only to acknowledge your question and communicate a plan.
We don’t like cat and mouse games. We’ll be open with you about what we can do, what we can’t do, and why.
Peace of Mind
Complex projects are tough enough without having to worry if we are handling our business. We will faithfully use the systems we built for project management and communications to make sure you have the information you need.
Hold us to the standard. It’s your right.