Something just seems off or wrong. You’re managing a project but it doesn’t seem like your client isn’t enjoying the process. Maybe communication is lacking, or they’ve suddenly started to micro-manage you…or maybe it’s something else. Whatever it is, your client just doesn’t seem to be extremely satisfied with how things are going. That can be difficult to work through because we all know how important client satisfaction is in project management.
Not all clients are the same and Keep the client perspective in mind
The reality is some clients are harder to please than others. Some seem excited with everything thing you do – others not so much. Either way, you need to be agile and something about it.
5 tips to improve customer satisfaction
It’s important to quickly recognize when you need to alter something or refine a process or behavior to make things better. Here are five tips you can do to improve the client experience for project managers.
- Add a 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 your client will be pleasing and informative.
- Get a C-level on an upcoming project client status call/meeting: Nothing says “you are important” to your client like getting a C-level executive to pay them a visit or sit in on a project status meeting or two. It tells your client that their project is important and you’re willing to ensure top-down visibility to prove it. For big projects, it’s often recommended to have a senior executive act as a project sponsor or champion. If you do this right from the beginning, it’ll add a lot of value to your client.
- Conduct lessons learned sessions multiple times during the project: Lessons learned sessions are usually conducted at the end of the project with the client 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. Being proactive about gathering feedback is a great way to improve the experience for your client and keep 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 you can’t do the testing for them, you can assist them. We can assist them with preparing test scenarios and use cases, and then walk them through the UAT experience. Again, you should not write the scenarios and use cases for them, but you can show them how to do it correctly.
- Have everything planned for final delivery: How you and your team handle the end game of the project can make or break the client’s experience. Some PMs think you can just phone it in at the end of the project that has gone relatively smoothly. Not so. You’ll win many, many more points if you guide your client through deployment and then some. 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 added and support will go miles in ensuring customer satisfaction and possibly more work in the future. Win-win.
Keep the client perspective in mind
Sometimes, it truly is the little things that matter. The extra distance you go in taking the time and effort to please that clients 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 your client.