Want to make your project customer happy? Want to guarantee they’ll be very satisfied clients throughout the engagement? Ok, you may need to ask someone else because I certainly don’t have the answer for that. If I did I’d be a millionaire several times over by now. But I can tell you that doing the ten things that are contained in this two part series will help your customer love you more as a project manager and likely be more pleased about the project than they otherwise would be.
Think of these as nice, value-added things that you and the delivery team can bring to the project without really costing the project customer and the project any extra money.
Lead a great project kickoff meeting. I realize this may be easier said than done. But how you kickoff the project will say a lot about who you are and how you’re going to manage the engagement and maintain control of the project and team. And it’s the start of customer confidence in your ability to deliver. Start off poorly and you’ll be fighting to gain that customer confidence and respect throughout the engagement. Come prepared, set expectations, show them how you will run the project and be (and sound) confident. And if you can be confident, you still need to sound confident.
Deliver bad news early. We hate to deliver the bad news, but there’s always some bad news. Whether it’s telling the customer that the project is going over budget, that a deadline will be missed, or simply that a potentially expensive change order is necessary … there’s always some bad news to deliver. Don’t delay it. Don’t wait. Give it to the customer promptly and preferably come with a lot of information and some potential solutions. It’s always better to deliver bad news when you have some potentially good news to add to it.
Keep them informed of the project budget status. Always keep the customer informed. Never skip a week of delivering the project status report – even if something comes up and you can’t hold the regular weekly status meeting/call. But by all means, have that status meeting no matter what – only cancel it if you have no other choice. Keeping the regularly scheduled meetings going – even if they are short meetings any given week because there isn’t much new material to cover – still have it. The more info and the more regular you are with schedules and status delivery, the more satisfied and confident and happy the customer will continue to be.
Be on time. Do what you say you’re going to do and when you say you’re going to do it. Deliver status reports and project schedules on time. Stick to the schedule on project deliverables (or give the customer bad news on potential delays EARLY – see above). You definitely want to be someone that the customer can count on – someone they see as stable and reliable.
Involve senior management. You’re not going to get a member of your company’s senior management team to be hands-on involved with each of your projects. But if you can get them to periodically attend project status calls with the customer – and trust me, you can – that will say a lot to the customer on the other end of the phone. It will tell them that they are important to your organization and it will tell them that this project is important. Be sure to get your senior management attendee up to speed on any issues and current status prior to the meeting so that they can actually sound knowledgeable during discussions.
In Part 2, we will continue this discussion as I go over items six through ten on my ten ways to truly please your project customer.