Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Curse of Knowledge: Client Retention Obstacle 4

Experience and knowledge, tied to success, come with price. They can carve a deep rut that’s hard to climb out of. It’s called the “Curse of Knowledge” and it can impact client retention and client relationships.

Experience vs. "wow." I was evaluating a client for a design firm who was working for a Dean at a prestigious university. The Dean wanted an architect with significant experience to conduct a planning study and create preliminary designs. He also wanted a “wow” factor for the building. Ultimately, he desired to build something unique that other universities didn’t have.

They hired my client and thought they got both – experience and the the ability to create a “wow.” But the "Curse" was in play. Designs and plans came through that were tested and proven. They’d certainly work well. But it was a struggle to get something new, something that hadn’t been done before.

"I like them but..."
In the interview the feedback came like this:

"I really liked the firm. They are organized, responsive, good people, fun to work with. Very knowledgeable.  Creative? Well not as much as we wanted. They know an awful lot but I expected more creativity and innovation."

The feedback was unanimous: knowledgeable, experienced, responsive, smart – absolutely. Creative – not enough. They knew too much.

The “Curse of Knowledge” struck again. What’s the future like for growing this client relationship? Up a steep hill for sure.