Life Lessons – Are There Rules for Interacting With Customers?

I personally don’t claim to know everything and most of my soft skills, learning/techniques have got seasoned over the years. It is something I try to emulate, learn, and get guidance from 100’s of people I meet daily. I vividly remember talking with my good friend Vinod Kumar from Microsoft MTC a few years back on some of these techniques. These learnings or golden rules of thumb have come a long way in making me a better person – personally and professionally. Let us learn very important life lessons today – Are There Rules for Interacting With Customers?

Life Lessons - Are There Rules for Interacting With Customers? lifelessons-800x377

Interacting With Customers

When it comes to customer-facing roles, there is nothing golden about it. It is sheer hard work and an eye for details that make you successful.

  • Customers are always right: Well, when I got into consulting, this is the words that echoed back of my mind. Why not, these are NOT always true. I did modify this rule to say – “Customers have the right to be wrong.” Else the business of consultancy can never flourish. The way you mitigate this is by verifying everything that a customer did/says he did. My rule is simple if I haven’t seen it personally or have verified it personally – I am assuming what you actually said isn’t true. If you take this seriously enough, then this can be applied to everyone, not just customers.
  • Validate your actions: It is quite possible we get blinded by what we do. I don’t blindly make changes to systems in a *hope* that it would work. This can be dangerous. I try to gather data to verify and validate that the changes I am making will impact the data collected. As a dossier, my first interaction with any customer involves the collection of a wealth of data – Hardware information, registry settings, OS Version, Patches applied, file versions, folder locations, deployment plan, DR plans, backup strategies, performance monitoring tools used, third party tool installations, SQL Agent Jobs, ports open, custom configurations, trace flags enabled/disabled and this list goes on. I know it is frustrating as DBA to get all these details. But every single information counts and helps in me strategizing the same.
  • Start with a “WHY”: The best way you learn and create a lasting impact is by asking this most important question of WHY. Ask, why am I doing this? (If you don’t, it is quite possible the customer is going to ask this). If some things were done on the server, ask “Why did you do that?” If you want to learn about SQL Server better ask, “Why is the product behaving like this?”. The best learning can be achieved if you ask at least 3-4 why once you get the answer. This is a thorough way to learn and understand any Software systems. The more “Why” questions you answer; the better you are going to get with the product.

If you ask me, these three rules have been in the center of my mindset when working with customers around the world.

As my blog readers, do you feel this mindset makes sense? What else do you feel I need to add to my bag of tricks to be a better consultant? Let me know via the comments below.

Reference: Pinal Dave (

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