Something just seems off or wrong. You’re managing a project but it doesn’t seem like your customer enjoying the process. Maybe communication is lacking, or they’ve suddenly started to micro-manage you…or maybe it’s something else. They just don’t seem to be extremely satisfied with how things are going. That doesn’t mean the project is going poorly. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing anything wrong or that your team is underperforming. Some customers are harder to please than others. Some seem excited with everything thing you do – others not so much. Either way, you have a “customer issue” and you need to do something about it. Maybe not a direct hit, but you need to alter something or inject a new process or behavior in order to change whatever is making the customer experience less than ideal for the project customer.
What I am going to present here are what I like to refer to as five tips to improve your project client’s satisfaction level. Think of your own tips or changes to this list as you read through it…
Incorporate an informative dashboard into the weekly status report. Executives really do love dashboards. Make it a good dashboard with lots of detail and you can make it serve as the status report for all stakeholders. You’ll still need the detail portion of the status report – the regular bullet items that get updated before, during and after each status meeting. But a good dashboard with red/green/yellow indicators, bars or pies, and budget information is going to solve your need to potentially create multiple levels of status reports for every project. And the presentation to the customer will be pleasing and informative.
Get a C-level on an upcoming project client status call/meeting. Nothing says “you are important” to your project customer like getting your CEO to pay them a visit or sit in on a project status meeting or two. And it doesn’t have to be the CEO if you’re in a large organization…it can be another C-level exec or a VP. But it does need to be someone at a pretty high level within your organization. It tells your customer that this project is critical to us and we want to ensure that we are performing to your expectations.
Conduct lessons learned sessions multiple times during the project. Lessons learned sessions are conducted at the end of the project with the customer to discuss what was good and what was not so good about the project. The idea is to learn from these sessions and improve upon your project delivery on the next project. By engaging your project customer periodically throughout the current project – say, at every key deliverable, phase or milestone – you can improve upon you and your project team’s performance and delivery on the current project. Your pro-activeness is a great way to improve the experience for your project customer and keep customer satisfaction high.
Give the client a resource at their disposal for user acceptance testing. Project clients are notoriously bad at preparing – and usually at executing – user acceptance testing (UAT) on technical projects. While we can’t do the testing for them – that would be a conflict of interest and serve no good purpose – we can assist them. We can assist them with preparing test scenarios and use cases and we can walk them through the UAT experience. Again, we should not write the scenarios and use cases for them, but we can show them how to do it correctly. And by assigning a FREE resource to do that with them, we are not only helping them, we are not breaking their budget to do so.
Have everything well planned out for deploying the final solution. How you and your team handle the end game of the project can make or break the customer experience. Some PMs think you can just phone it in at the end of the project that it has gone relatively smoothly. Not so. Much like your mother-in-law who just got a new Macbook and you spent 30 minutes helping her get started and then said, “Gotta go!” you’ll win many, many more points if you hold their hand through deployment and then some. Believe me, those project customers with a technical solution that was just handed to them feel a lot better when they know you’re still around to call after the final project task in the schedule shows 100% complete. Plan for a 30 to 60 day transition to support for the project solution on technical projects and promise to keep you and your team available to the customer if needs arise. If you’ve hammered out a pretty good relationship with the customer during the engagement prior to closeout, then this act of closeout contact and support will go miles in ensuring customer satisfaction and possibly other add-on work for your organization. Win-win.
Summary / Call for Input
Sometimes, it truly is the little things that matter. The extra distance you go in taking the time and effort to please that project customer will not go unnoticed by them. Take your technical insight down a notch and look at it from their perspective. Think about what might cause you anxiety if you were sitting in their seat. And pinpoint those things. This is a general list and projects are specific – technology is specific. Every project is different and can present you with new and different tips for a better customer experience if you just look at the project through the eyes of the customer.
How about our readers? What would you add to this list? What things do you do to go the extra mile for those customers who either need or seem to be a bit lacking in confidence in your delivery periodically? Please share and discuss.
About Brad Egeland
Brad Egeland is a Business Solution Designer and IT/PM consultant and author with over 25 years of software development, management, and project management experience leading initiatives in Manufacturing, Government Contracting, Creative Design, Gaming and Hospitality, Retail Operations, Aviation and Airline, Pharmaceutical, Start-ups, Healthcare, Higher Education, Non-profit, High-Tech, Engineering and general IT. Brad is married, a father of 11, and living in sunny Las Vegas, NV. Visit Brad’s site at https://www.bradegeland.com/.