Business growth is driven by stakeholders. The primary stakeholder fueling growth is customers. Without them, businesses wither. That said, project managers today must actively engage with clients. After all, customer engagement is important for all businesses, no matter the industry or size.
How a customer perceives your business is based on brand recognition, the quality of service or product delivery, and positioning of your company in their perspective. Realistically, the relationship you have with your customers, however, plays the most influential role. This perception can impact current customer, future business, and even prospective customers.
If customers are happy with how they were engaged and what service they were provided, it will extend more business your way through referrals. If they were unhappy with any of the above, it will spread like wildfire through negative reviews and word of mouth, negatively impact future business.
That said, managing your customer relationships takes effort. In order to improve customer experience, project managers have to avoid making these four key mistakes.
MISTAKE 1: Failing to Engage Customers and Uncover Their Expectations
You must never fail to engage your customer. You do not want to sell your company, your products, or your services to customers. You want to, instead, help them acquire it. Ask your customers how they are, what issues they are facing. Listen to them well. You will soon learn what unmet expectations they have and problems that need solving. Then you can easily show them how your company, your products, your services address their concerns. Take Simplisafe for instance, this home safety company, figured out how annual contracts, getting landlines, etc are a pain point for their customers and figured out a way to address that, based on customer feedback. That’s what happens when you engage with customers.
There will be times when your customers do not know what their problem is, so they describe symptoms. As a project manager, you can prompt customers to bring out their needs, then reaffirm them by identifying how your company offers a solution. Do not be pushy or salesy. Just engage the customer and lead them.
MISTAKE 2: Failing to Exceed Their Expectations
Never deliver less than you promised. You should work to exceed the expectations of your customers once you know them. Delivering more than what they expected will keep them coming back for more. You make a greater impact overall. Once you know what their problems are, and what expectations they have, you have the chance to work harder to give them even more. Better engagement with customers creates this great impact.
As the project manager, if you can deliver projects that solve the problems of your customers beyond their expectations, you have now earned credibility and secured future business. You need to figure out on how you can better serve your customers.
MISTAKE 3: Failing to Be Transparent
As a project manager, you want to reward customer engagement. You want to be transparent. Customers respect companies who are transparent. Being transparent gives you great involvement with your customers which means ongoing feedback from them. Getting your customers involved throughout every step of the process means they get no unwanted surprises. It also means a higher chance that your project will deliver value to them.
MISTAKE 4: Failing to Get Personal
Today, more than ever, you need to get personal with your clients. Listen to their personal interests, their hobbies, their achievements, and their family background. Building good customer relationships starts with getting personal. When you talk to customers about a business issue, be on the lookout for an opportunity to hear about their personal interests… and then use that knowledge for better business.
If for example, customers willingly share a personal aspiration, detail, or interest, it is up to you to decide how to use that information. Every conversation you have with customers should be analyzed to figure out how to promote improved experience for them with your business.
Make a note of the personal things you hear, maybe save them for later. Every conversation you have with a customer does not have to be about issues, contracts, or projects. You can have an informal conversation that removes the barriers of formal business proceedings and alleviates resistance. You will see customers come forward because of this type of support they receive. They might even promote you within their own organizations or networks.
Overall, as a project manager, you have to build a customer-focused culture in your projects by simply focusing on the project management basic principles, while always striving for better customer relationships. Avoiding these mistakes can lead to better success.