As we approach the beginning of Spring many of us see a dramatic uptick in field work as the weather improves and construction picks up. We also have a lot of product announcements being sent our way. There was a time when conventions and product releases seemed to be seasonal as well but I feel like I get a, “Now Hear This!” email everyday with some new product, service or update. Keeping up with this type of stuff is my job so I listen, I research, and where applicable, I recommend. However, I’m not sure that repeating, “Now Hear This” to my clients is in anyone’s best interest.
When I get a call from a client they typically need an answer for now, not for some period “projected to be in the last quarter of the year.” So why am I wasting their time talking about how much better it would be if they put the work off for a year or so? We all know how this works. We have employees and equipment that we have to keep busy on billable projects in order to stay in business. I owe it to both my partners and my clients to address this need first and foremost.
But let’s be honest, they are going to want to hear about new tech. We all want to know what’s coming, and in an industry as small as ours a little gossip goes a long way! But while this might be an interesting conversation, it’s not getting any of us closer to what we really want—billable work. Maybe we would all be better off if we started our project conversations with, “When do you anticipate starting fieldwork?” The reality is, the technical solution I recommend might be different six months from now than if you want us onsite next week. After we get the real work taken care of, I am more than happy to talk about upcoming tech as long as you want.
Now that I think about it, I’m not just getting those “Now Hear This!” announcements every day; between LinkedIn, email and Twitter they are coming in multiple times a day! On days when I have to process data or prep for a presentation I have started turning off phone alerts for social media and restricting myself to web browser use during specific hours. I firmly believe you could keep chasing new tech to the point that you never actually get anything done.
So, what are we supposed to do about it? Keeping up has been hyped to such a degree that it is a job unto itself. But it’s a job that isn’t billable! While I agree that it is necessary, we have to move the focus—especially when it comes to customer support. Despite the hype “Now Hear This!” is less important than “Now. Here. This.” If we don’t feel that way our clients will feel less important as well because they are the “This” that is “Here” right “Now.” And if we don’t realize it and treat them accordingly, they won’t be “Here” for long.