Numerous customers have told me, "If they can't do the work, I wish they'd just say so right up front, instead of saying 'yes' now, and then 'no' later." Is it any wonder that customers become angry, resentful and distrustful?
Untruths and Consequences
Being the bearer of bad news is no one's favorite responsibility. And it's understandable to want to delay revealing that bad news in hopes that you can quickly recover with no one the wiser. But customers emphasize that they'd rather have bad news now, than worse news later. After all, not having the news till later automatically makes it worse because they have less time to adjust. Customers emphasize that just like the software team, they have work to complete, deadlines to meet and people depending on them. The sooner they know of a delay or a problem, the sooner they can act accordingly to manage its impact on them.
Although most people have customers-driving-me-crazy stories, the fact is that most customers are reasonable people. They know that things don't always proceed as planned, and they'd much prefer to know the situation as it really is, rather than as we might wish them to think it is.
When customers seem demanding or unyielding, this behavior may be the consequence of too often being on the receiving end of blatant dishonesty. Dare to tell your customers the truth. They don't like to hear bad news, but they'll appreciate you for giving it to them straight, and as soon as possible. And that's the honest truth.