Archive for May 5th, 2010

Never Outsource Your Core Competency

I’ve heard it commonly said that clients don’t care about this and don’t care about that. All they care is that their work gets done.

But the thing is, they do care. Very much.

They care when they are made to feel like a thing (and not a person) on an assembly line. They care when they have to deal with a constantly revolving door of workers they have only fleeting, impersonal contact with. They care when the right hand never seems to know what the left hand is doing. They care when they have to start over and begin at the beginning developing a shared knowledge base with every new person they have to deal with. They care that their work is passed off to people they never bargained for. They care that they are paying premium fees when that work is passed down to those (less skilled, less qualified, less creative, less thinking) underlings they don’t know, perhaps don’t like, and/or who don’t do as good a job as the person they thought they were hiring. They care that they don’t know who, what or where their work and information is being stored, viewed and passed around to.

Sometimes their dislike for this stuff isn’t even conscious. They just know on some level they aren’t happy with how things are being handled.

At some point, it’s up to you to understand what is important and why those things are important–even if clients don’t know or understand those things themselves. They aren’t going to know or understand all the subtle distinctions and nuances. And they don’t have to. That’s your job. Because those subtle distinctions and nuances can make all the difference in your service levels and delivery, your clients’ satisfaction, and ultimately, how they view and trust their relationship with you and how loyal they are to you.

One line I really love from Tony Hsieh’s (he’s the founder of Zappo’s) new book, Delivering Happiness, is this: Never outsource your core competency.

This reminds us that our work is our relationship with clients. Whatever the thing is that you are in business to do, whether that’s delivering shoes or providing administrative support, THAT is your core competency. Extraordinary service comes from extraordinary caring–about your clients and your craft. No third party will ever care nor be as passionate about your clients and delivering your core product or service to them as you.

Never abdicate your relationship with your clients.