Thoughts / Make the client happy / November 10, 2008

I’ve been thinking about a phrase that stuck on my mind some days ago, perhaps because of a song from Simon and Garfunkel: keep the client satisfied. The original song line says ‘keep the customer satisfied’ but I got it stuck in my brain with ‘customer’ exchanged for ‘client’.

I started to feel there was something in the phrase really bothering me. It was the word ‘keep’, but why? Then to see why, I started playing with the word, looking for a substitute and I found ‘make’. Make the customer satisfied. It does not work, so I changed ‘satisfied’ for ‘happy’ as you cannot make someone satisfied.

Then it kind of struck me. Two things. One: in order to be satisfied, you have to be happy about something, and continue being happy about it as long as you feel satisfied. Two: it does not matter what that thing is or if it changes through time, it has to continue making you happy in order to keep you satisfied.

In the end it seemed to be about making you happy and keeping you happy. So first: make them happy, and then: keep them happy, that’s how I saw satisfaction in function of time. Better, durable, total satisfaction.

It seemed interesting, but something was still bothering me. There was something about ‘keep the client happy’ that was smelly, fishy, not right; and there was something about ‘make the client happy’ that resonated and vibrated and sounded just right and wholesome.

Keeping someone happy is not that difficult, it requires not to break the current equilibrium of happiness that someone has, perhaps by continuing feeding what that someone’s reality is fed on. Keeping a client happy is just feeding them back what they want to believe that makes them happy. If they come, for example, with an idea about the whole site being blue, and you make it blue, you keep them happy, supposing the blue site made them happy in the first place.

Making someone happy requires more, much more precision, power and interest, and much more knowledge too. It supposes to create something that generates happiness on someone. It also supposes no matter in which state the client is, a higher state of happiness can be achieved, and perhaps maintained. ‘Make the client happy’ might require you to convince them, for example, of what you’re doing will make more sense for their company, and that that will make their customers happy, and that will make them happy in the end, as it might not be obvious that it will make the client happy from the beginning.

There’s something about keeping the client happy that is to me about keeping the status quo, there’s something exactly opposite about making the client happy that is to me about going out and making what’s needed for them to be happy, whether they were it before or not.

Might be a mannerism, but the make the client happy sounds much more right, and courageous, to me.