How to engage customers to ensure successful project delivery
Many project managers neglect the end customer. Instead, they focus efforts on the process of project management. Skills in planning, reviewing and reporting are essential, and project managers spend time and energy to motivate project teams and ensure delivery of project products. The best project managers engage their customers with the same gusto.
Here are five strategies the best project managers use to engage the customer throughout a project lifecycle.
1. Discover customer expectations
It is essential to understand a customer’s expectations. Project communication is key. Project managers must understand the ability of customers to articulate their problems and expectations. Frequent discussions with the customer improve the project manager’s ability to understand issues and expectations.
There will be times when a customer is not certain of the exact nature of a problem. They describe symptoms, and not the cause. It is the project manager’s responsibility to uncover this cause, understand real need, and engage the customer to lead them to the solution.
The customer experience depends upon how well the project product meets their expectations. If the project manager does not understand these, then the project manager is likely to fail to deliver satisfactory results.
2. Exceed expectations
Meeting expectations is a minimum goal. The best project managers always aim to exceed expectations. Greater impact equals greater satisfaction, and this is helped by engaging with customers more often.
3. Collaborate closely with others
As the owner of a customer’s expectations, it is the role of the project manager to ensure that other teams work toward them. The project manager has a unique insight, allowing them to make connections between teams and ensure that all teams have the same understanding of what the customer’s needs are.
The project manager should interact regularly with all other teams and project stakeholders, developing partnerships and concrete collaboration.
4. Ensure transparency
Project managers lead with transparency. They are open and honest in their day-to-day communication, with customers and project teams. This trust trickles down.
Transparency ensure there are no surprises – welcome or unwelcome. It eliminates hidden agendas, and makes certain that all pertinent information is shared in a timely fashion. Information flows both ways in a transparent system.
The result is that transparent project management ensures that the triple constraint in project work is managed more effectively, and the project should be delivered to the required quality, within time and budget.
5. Balance customer needs and project management
Through constant and effective communication with their customer, a project manager helps to prioritise objectives and control scope creep. Not everything can be agreed, and project managers must ensure that the customer understands the impact of requests.
If the answer is ‘No’, a good project manager will say ‘No’. They will explain why, and help the customer to determine acceptable solutions. The best project managers build relationships with customers that help to drive projects forward with realistic goals and expectations.
In summary, the most effective project managers work with a customer focus. They practice the principles and processes of good project management, and continually forge good relationships with their customers. They set and manage expectations, communicate regularly, and ensure that all those involved in or impacted by the project are on the same page as the customer.
To discover how the most effective project management could ensure your projects are delivered successfully, contact Your Project Manager today: