[Open Discussion] Responsibility in giving advice to clients
A client tells you that they will do x and that their very important goal is y. You recommend them to do z, instead of x. z is objectively twice better in achieving their goal y than x. However, to do z, a strict set of instructions must be followed or else the client will screw up. Screwing up will trigger a negative consequence for them, which has no benefit nor negative impact to you. Clear instructions are provided to the client to do z. You offer the client to do z for them, so that they do not have to face any risk. The possible consequence facing them, if they screw up, is explained. Although the risk to reward proposal is a non-sense, the client freely chooses to do z themselves, instead of asking you to do it. They ignore the instructions that were given to them, they screw up and, as a result, the consequence materializes. As the consequence materializes, the client first refutes that they screwed up and try to cover up their mistake. They will lie. They will play on words. As they are faced with overwhelming evidence of their mistake, the client begins to shift the responsibility of their mistake to you. The client argues that x is what they wanted to do, not z. You recommended z. It's your fault if they did z. Their goal, y, quickly disappears from the equation. As you try to enforce the consequence (as someone has to bear it), the client shifts more and more the responsibility and the consequence to you. They start by trying to have you assume half of the consequence and gradually increase their demand. Pushed to the utmost limit, the client begins to accuse you of manipulating them into doing z, of fabricating fail points, of desiring them to fail. You are a liar, a criminal.
This is the situation we were faced with twice in the past 2 days. 1 of them was exceptionally hard to get through.
I am giving technical advise to our clients to help them have the most out of their money. I expect this to translate to more solid business relationships. The lesson I'm taking out of this experience is that advice shouldn't be given to clients. At least not in our case and possibly not in many other cases. Facts should be objectively presented to the client : "x does this, in regards to your goal y, and z does this and carries that risk, now make your choice". The difference is very subtle, but, at least based on this limited experience, I would expect the client to more readily assume their responsibility if the notion of recommendation is never involved. Of course, we've given advice to clients for the past 9 years with mostly no mishap, but these bad experiences can be so hard to get through, that they may be worth broadly applying special measures. Also, of course, most of these special clients are probably so ill-intentioned that it wouldn't change anything.
What are your thoughts on the notion of responsibility when giving advice to a client?