How to manage impatient Non-Technical clients as a Data Scientist
Data Scientist is an amalgamation of many roles — data analyst, statisticians, little data engineering. However, the most impactful and rewarding role is that of a Storyteller.
We spend most of our days cooped up with our laptops trying to tweak hyper-parameters, making grid-search, deciding the best evaluation metrics etc. However, a big part of the work is to talk to client and make them understand the work. Modeling is slow work, we can spend days tweaking models and still get nothing at the end. But clients might not understand it easily.
Today a client screamed at us in the meeting. To give more context, the client is getting on-boarded and he is a mathematician. He is really amazing when it comes to MAPE, R square and other stats. However, Data Science is not just about MAPE and R-square. It firstly include many moving parts (pipeline, SQL, cloud etc) and on many occasion MAPE might not give you a correct picture.
So, in the meeting, we showed him how the data pipelines are made and how 1st part of data is captured. As he didn’t know much about SQL and pipeline, he spend 3 weeks trying to understand it. Today he completed the task and understood the pipelines properly. Then we told him that now we will start modeling. As soon as we told him this, he got furious and said that he though we were working on modeling and that's the only reason he spend so much time understanding the files. We informed that getting the data is an essential part of modeling but he woun’t take it. He insisted that we misguided him and we are hiding the code for modeling.
Anyways, that conversation went south and we got a big escalation email.
But the point I want to make is that even though client’s reaction was very uncalled for, I can sympathize with it. Everything is new for him and he might be feeling a bit out of control. The only way to handle these situation is to:
- Take conversation on email.
- Try explaining multiple times. Don’t get irritated or frustrated (it won’t help anyone)
- Try asking what he has understood so far. Create a shared doc and ask him to fill it out
I’ll add more information as the time comes.