Data Integrity vs. Flexibility

Sometimes it can be a struggle to push back when a client asks me to compromise. It can be hard to communicate in a delicate manner that the pain is for their own good. Sometimes I just need to take a breath.

Setting the Standard

When I first engage a client, we discuss states of being. We discuss the current state of their communications, their channels, the support systems they've implemented. We draw a baseline and take snapshots. Sometimes this process is simple, other times it feels like a forensic investigation. Going through a history of their communications and building reports, analyzing them, reading the signs and telling them what it means. Explaining that your click-through rate might not be stellar if you don't implement a Call-to-Action. Walking them through the fallout of buying leads rather than attracting them.

Eventually these discussions trickle down to standards that are implemented at a tactical level--your email needs code just like so to be responsive, and just like so to support Outlook, and just like so to track opens; your databases have only these inputs, and the data matches this format or it isn't included; and so forth. It takes awhile. It takes time for these pieces to fall snugly into place, it takes time to create elegant processes. It is worth the time.

The Challenge

Then one day, you see a storm gather on the horizon.

You get a call from your client at the 11th hour asking you to do something right away. Fire!

You receive the request, and begin to evaluate the scope of their request. You come to a bleak conclusion. In order to meet their request, you will need to compromise the standards you have adopted together and the integrity of the environment you've sculpted.

Hold the Line...Hodor!

Now is your test.

How do you politely refuse your client?

In my experience, I have found that the best/most effective approach is to back up and reflect on the progress you've made. Talk about where you started, the previous disarray of their communication systems.Then talk about where you are taking them. After establishing the backstory, it becomes easy, you may not even need to say, "Now why would you want to stray from the path?".