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3 “choice” mistakes made by service professionals

A set of three colorful doors labelled "3", "2", and "1" respectively

People in professional services (doctors, lawyers, accountants, technology consultants) occasionally stumble on a predicament: their customer may want to do the “wrong” thing. The thing that the pro feels isn’t the best choice.

At this juncture, the pro has to decide whether the customer is “right” in wanting to do something unorthodox or discouraged, or whether they will try to persuade them of the foolishness of their choice.

Mistake # 1: assuming the customer wants to do the “right” thing and not giving them an option. “Oh, you shouldn’t do that, because….” – Dear pro, you’re not them. They might want to do that. Scratch your head all you want, but it’s their ultimately their decision. You have the choice to withdraw from the relationship based on the customer’s choice (criminal lawyers like to do this with dramatic flourish)

Mistake # 2: not explaining the pros/cons more thoroughly. “If you had told me that, I wouldn’t have DONE it!” – that’s one of the most frustrating situations: a customer doesn’t take your advice and then blames you for not thoroughly explaining the pitfalls.

Mistake # 3: not expressing a clear preference when giving choices. Choices aren’t enough. Tell the customer the BEST choice and why you prefer it.

You may think you know what your customers wants and that you’re saving them some time by making a decision on their behalf. Why risk being wrong?

To recap:

  • Don’t give any choices? you’re being presumptuous and not respecting the customer.

  • Give too many choices? You’re not giving your customer the benefit of your wisdom.

  • Present the choices without the pros & cons? They get to blame you later if there’s a problem.

Present the choices, give pro’s & con’s, give your recommendation, let them decide. It’s a bit more work up front, and much less work for you later.

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