A Consultant's Story

Written by David Pullan

A Consultant's Story

While I was on my recent rapid trip to Australia I suddenly found the vision in my right eye swimming around like I was staring through the bottom of an old fashioned bottle of ginger beer.


When I got back to the UK I went to have my eyes checked and, thanks to some quick thinking by the optometrist and a rapid fire referral to an NHS consultant, I found myself on the receiving end of laser surgery to repair a retinal tear.


Now the consultant I was sent to is a leader in his field. He has pioneered methods of eye surgery and is right at the top of his game. He has a calm, ‘trust me I can do this in my sleep’ air, and a very dry bedside manner. He’s the McKinsey & Co. of Eyeball Surgery crossed with a sniper and George Carlin.


When I went back to see him for the post surgery check up all he said was, ‘Well, that’s a fantastic piece of work. You’ve obviously been treated by a genius.’ I laughed and agreed to give him a good review on Tripadvisor.


However last week something weird happened.


I was in the middle of a meeting when it looked as if an evil pixie had swapped my right eyeball for a lava lamp. Blobs and swirls floated around my vision like Clooney in ‘Gravity.’


Needless to say I rushed back to the hospital where, after a thorough check up, another quite brilliant doctor told me that I’d had a bit of bleeding around the laser surgery but there was no sign of detachment. She also told me exactly what had been done during my procedure and that it probably wasn’t wise if I went hill running for a few weeks or start any new regime of extreme power lifting. If I followed these instructions then all would be well.


Essentially she gave me a context by explaining what had happened, what was happening and what was likely to happen. And of course I am much happier and no longer wondering if I could buy some mark down eye patches from Johnny Depp.


So what is my point?


It is simply that as a customer I felt much more trust for the second consultant I saw as she took time to tell me the story of my eye and how it related to my present and future. She didn’t focus on the undoubted excellence of the work and the methodology of the procedure. She spoke to my point of view and my concerns.


McKechnie and I run workshops on consultancy skills for clients, and a fundamental point we raise is the need to take the customer on a journey. Listen to them, understand them and talk about how your work will affect them. No doubt you are great at your job, but all your client cares about is the commercial implications of what you’ve done.


This may seem like the most obvious piece of advice in the world, but I’m staggered at how often it isn’t followed.


Tell the story of your work as it relates to the client and you will form much stronger relationships. These relationships will lead to greater trust and better reviews in the Tripadvisor of corporate word of mouth, which of course will lead to more business.


And never forget that in a world of brilliant people it is the power of your personal connection that will give you the edge.





photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/17088227@N00/21236578204">On call 24/7</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>


  • W B Yeats

    'Think like a wise man, but communicate in the language of the people.'