Picture the scene. You are in charge of managing the relationship with one of the highest profile customers your business has and you have just received the phone call in which they tell you that the relationship is finished. Ended. No more.
Tragically for the Met Office, the world's most famous weather forecasting agency, this scene wasn't imagined, but became an unwelcome reality last week. A relationship held since 1922 with the BBC appears to be, notwithstanding some last ditch attempts to resuscitate it, all but dead. True, the Met Office will continue to provide some services (including, severe weather warnings) but the bulk of services, representing £3m of annual income, will be put out to tender, opening the door to global competitors.
So what went wrong?
The BBC and the Met Office share the unenviable space of public-private organisations that are trying to carve a commercial way forward in a world where cash is not plentiful. However, according to Steve Noyes, the Met Office Customer Services Director, "Given how early we were rejected in the process, it is our understanding that price was not part of the consideration". Various potential reasons are cited as the underlying reasons for the separation, including views on content (the Met office contention that the BBC was angling to dumb down weather forecasts), technology (the Met office forecasting app has received poor feedback) and the range of services offered (a New Zealand competitor, MetraWeather, already provides weather graphics to the BBC).
Notwithstanding the odd "Michael Fish" faux pas, the debate clearly wasn't about forecast accuracy - already commonly viewed as the best in the world, a £97m investment in a supercomputer will allow the Met office to predict 6 days ahead, at post code granularity.
No. The signs are that this falling out is about a deterioration in relationship over a number of years, culminating in this very public divorce. Could this have been prevented?
Time to open the relationship management handbook
If there were a relationship management handbook, then these would be 7 of the key areas that it would recommend you pay close attention to.
Chris Lorimer is an
experienced consultant who has helped many organisations to grow through his unique 4 Ps approach.