digital transformation

Overcoming Customer Stockholm Syndrome

organrejection.jpg

Kablamo has been breaking some new ground in Australia, engineering and delivering quality digital products as a service. That shouldn’t be notable in any way, but our customers aren’t used to getting exactly what they want, when they want it. 

Sometimes being a high performer in an industry with a bad reputation can be a burden due to what I call Customer Stockholm Syndrome.

Consultancies have been promising digital transformation for years and have largely failed to deliver – this makes our effectiveness a new experience for many. Kablamo is a digital product engineering company, building beautiful software on top of complex data sets. We consistently deliver exactly what our clients need, on time and on budget.

While this should be a perfect storm for kicking goals and landing clients, we have to be careful to avoid a corporate version of organ rejection.

Organ rejection occurs when transplanted tissue is rejected by the recipient's immune system, destroying the transplanted tissue. Despite incredible work from donors and doctors, the body pushes back against something that’s ultimately good for it, and the results can be tragic.

The stakes might be lower in the corporate world, but the risks are no less real. When your company dramatically outperforms what your customer is used to, they can feel like it’s all too good to be true.

As a reflex, clients may feel compelled to take some ill-advised course of action. In our industry, that might include reverting to old enterprise vendor management practices and policies, to their own detriment and ours.

This could mean inserting additional vendors for ‘competitive tension’, introducing reams of over-prescriptive legal doctrine, or building bespoke insurance and risk-prevention techniques – all of which are either unnecessary or only useful to manage the poor vendor relationships they’re used to.

This isn’t the client’s fault, of course. They’ve been held captive by underperforming service providers for years, a feeling we can all relate to. Just like victims of Stockholm Syndrome, they build coping mechanisms to get them through.

The solution lies in getting the customer to realise that by virtue of your product or service, they’re now free of the underperforming vendors. All this without coming off as pushy, which can itself be a trigger to Customer Stockholm Syndrome.

That said, there’s no simple resolution to this issue. It’s a people problem, and people are the best tool you have to solve it. For Kablamo, our leadership team have built careers in negotiating these scenarios, and we will continue to fight the good fight. Not only for ourselves, but for the future of our clients.