When your clients run your business

I just need to get something off of my chest.

Some of the companies that I’ve worked for/with, rely heavily on their clients as the only true measure of performance. They would take client satisfaction as a reflection of how they themselves perceive their operations and businesses.

This is just plain WRONG.

Unless an organization have the established mechanisms and procedures that would identify problems before escalating into “customer dissatisfaction”, then they are on a decline path. Not only they need to identify problems, but, in order to remain competent, they also need to improve their internal operations. This can’t be done if an organization relies solely on their client to tell it how its operations are performing.

I’m not saying the customer satisfaction is not important. All I’m saying is that it should be “A” part of how you measure your company’s performance, not THE measure.

Customers might be pleased with what have been provided to them (in the form of a product/service), but, does that really mean it is the best that could be produced? A customer is never an expert at what an organization does. He’s only an expert at his own businesses/domain. Customers know the little about how a business (other than theirs) is managed, operated and what competitive advantage it has. That couldn’t be more true than in the cases where the traded commodity is as complex as the intellectual ability of an individual/team. In such cases, the only ones capable of establishing those performance criteria are those at the “producing” end, not at the receiving one.

Some organizations go to the uneducated extreme of hanging their employee performance on how their clients perceive those employees (yes, gentlemen, that happens). They sometimes even totally discard what those employees have provided. Their rule of thumb is “as long as there are no complains, they are on the right track”. This can never be furthest from the truth. I’ve been through projects where the products provided are seemingly functional from the outside. But, a simple look at the internals is enough to categorize them as R