When we ask our customers why they love working with Buda Consulting, the answer we typically get is that we listen to them and we do what they ask (Apparently this is rare in the database support field). And we almost always do. But not always!
When I was about fourteen, I delivered the morning paper before school in Staten Island. One of my customers, a very nice man named Mr. Olsen, asked me to make sure he knew when the paper arrived in the morning by making noise. I would throw the paper onto the porch from my bike and he asked me to throw it harder so it would hit the door and he would hear it from inside the house.
What he didn’t count on is that I would do exactly what he asked. The next day as I passed by his house on my bike, I threw that paper as hard as I could. It sailed over the walkway, past the steps, along the porch, and crashed right through the glass panel on the front door. It sure made noise!
Mr Olsen came out a bit shocked, and then said something like “a bit softer next time!” I offered to pay for the door (not knowing how I could ever afford to do that), but I was fortunate that my customer took responsibility for making a request without thinking it through, because he was a nice guy, and because I was only a kid.. But I understand now that it was my responsibility to evaluate the request, make sure that the request is in the customer’s best interest, and either mitigate any risks or suggest alternatives.
Now, all these years later, we sometimes have customers that make requests that could end up harming them. Rather than performing the action without question, we will inform them of the risk, suggest ways to mitigate that risk, and there are times that we will respectfully decline to perform the action if we feel the risk is too great.
I have learned that my job was not just to deliver the newspaper. My job was to deliver the newspaper without causing damage to my customer’s home. These days, the same applies to our customer’s database systems.