Of the last six projects I've worked on five have included some analysis work between a client and a service provider. Sometimes it’s an Integrator, sometimes a guarding company. One project had both. With one exception (a Bangalore-based Integrator) there were relationship dysfunctions between the clients and the providers with the clients believing the problem was the providers. My job, among other things, was to figure why the provider is "bad" and what should be done to fix it. As per the link below trust IS a currency, both gained and lost between two or more parties. The degradation of trust is almost always a two-way phenomenon. We all tend to see a two-way problem as being more of the other parties’ problem, especially where we’re paying them to perform.
In two instances I found the provider's behavior to be seriously problematic and the client's concerns more than valid. Indeed, their concerns underestimated the risks and impacts. However, in the three other instances the dysfunction was more equal: The Provider was as equally frustrated with the client but felt constrained due to the financial relationship and calling out poor client behavior could jeopardize the contract. In one instance, the client’s unhappiness was driven by non-security stakeholders and the Provider was trying juggle many unaligned client stakeholder expectations and manage perceptions! So, the provider’s own behavior exacerbated the client’s doubts.
There are a variety of techniques used to bridge gaps and mend fences where client and provider problems are concerned. The two questions I always ask first is “Do you want to fix the relationship or is it beyond repair” and “Are you open to feedback that, as a client, there are behaviors you need to change”. The answers tell me what to do.
Client and provider relationships ought to be built on trust; if trust is a currency then it has to have equal value both ways. The more openness to client/provider transactions - like services, feedback, and refining the expectations - the more rewarding the trust relationship becomes. Isn’t that what we all want?
Author: William Plante, ASP ITIL V3 , Senior Principal at Aronson Security Group