Are you an Overreaction Syndrome sufferer? Client service can be a difficult business, but it can be even harder if you overreact to everything that comes your way, especially when it comes from the clients!
It’s not a syndrome you can find in a book, as this is some pretty “new science” we’re talking about here, but it’s real and prevalent in our industry! Overreaction Syndrome -- or ORS, as I like to call it -- comes when you fail to have a roadmap for your business, so everything that comes your way can seem like a priority.
Some call it a strategy, but I like to cast a wider net and consider it a roadmap. A roadmap is inclusive of a strategy, but it also includes a series of concepts, priorities and some future vision that can provide a filter for where you want to go with your business. It’s natural that companies would have a roadmap if they want to be successful, but it’s also natural that an agency or any other client service person would, and should, do the same. Unfortunately there are too many situations where they don’t, and those are the people who suffer from ORS!
If you are a client service person, the very first thing you should do is sit down and establish a basic roadmap for your client. If you’re on the agency side, it can be about where clients should spend money, or what kind of innovations you think they should consider. If you are a publisher, it can be as simple as your projected growth for the account and how you expect to get there.
A roadmap is an initial point of reference, a filter that allows you to evaluate every client service request that comes down your path, and determine how you should react. Let’s face it: this is a reactive business. However, you can mitigate the overreaction by having some context to determine what your reaction should be -- how far you should go, how deep you should dive.
In 99% of client service situations, you are hired because you are the perceived expert in a specific area, and clients are paying you as such. So you shouldn’t be afraid to push back or say “no” to some client requests if you have a rationale and a hypothesis that is based on actual strategic thinking. Your roadmap can allow you to do that.
When you don’t have a roadmap, you can quickly and easily succumb to ORS. The symptoms of ORS are easy to spot. Your day gets longer, and every time the phone rings, you experience a sense of dread and fright at the direction inevitably awaiting you on the line. You sleep fewer hours, you get a little bit touchy with people. You feel out-of-control -- and in fact, you are! ORS is the signal that you are no longer acting in the way you were perceived. You are no longer the expert; you’re an order-taker!
This doesn’t mean that when the client calls, you can tell them “no” all the time, or that clients are wrong. It simply means that you are supposed to be engaging in a relationship with them. You’re not a servant -- or, as they will tend to put it, a vendor. The differences between a partner and a vendor are well-documented, but I can tell you that more vendors suffer from ORS than partners do.
The development of your roadmap will help you to avoid ORS. The roadmap will change, it will evolve. It should be considered a dynamic document, but the point is that it’s there.
Have you drafted a roadmap for your current role? It’s never too late to correct this issue, and ORS can be healed. Give it a shot!