Although it may sound obvious, customer service is the foundation that keep businesses moving forward and growing upwards. If you think about it, no matter the company, every service provider trying to gain influence within the corporate world depends heavily on their clients’ response.
In Project Management, customers get involved in the process from the very beginning and they help Project Managers drive all the activities until project’s completion. In other words, they serve as a guide that walks the team through the development of the whole process. That way, the project can be modified, shaped, and customized according to their expectations and needs, and goals can be achieved successfully.
But what does customer satisfaction mean exactly?
Generally speaking, the concept implies results should be compliant with the client’s requirements in order to provide them with the best possible service. But when it comes to Project Management, this means the Project Manager has to make sure that policies, objectives, and responsibilities of the project satisfy all the stakeholders involved in the project. This is why customer satisfaction is part of quality management and constitutes such an important step during planning.
Now let us see which are the top 5 steps every Project Manager should follow to guarantee a good customer service for their clients:
- Have a customer-driven philosophy
First of all, you should know that absolutely everything evolves around the customer –nothing is more important than assuring all the project team works towards guaranteeing their expectations. Make that your top priority.
It is your responsibility as a Project Manager to train your team on this philosophy and provide them with all the necessary tools they will need to develop customer service’s skills.
- Hear your customers carefully
Once you make sure the team is all set and properly educated, you will have to focus on understanding your stakeholder’s interests. Practicing active listening is not an easy task, but it is the only way of figuring out what your clients need. If you are sufficiently thorough, you will be able to catch this information quickly and then pass it on to your team so everyone can be aligned, and activities can be prioritized.
- Ask your customers for feedback and interpret them properly
Communication is always the key to avoid grey areas and bottlenecks. Do not get me wrong, problems will arise, but you must make sure you are doing everything that is on your hand to keep the process under control.
Asking for feedback is one (if not the best) way of improving your workflow and polish your technique. Listening to your customers’ concerns will give you the input you need to know if the project is going on the right track or if any adjustment is needed. If there is a particular issue that deserves attention, then the risk management team will have to take over and find a fast and effective solution to solve that matter.
However, not every feedback is going to be useful. This is why you should have the ability to identify which ones are going to be beneficial and will encourage your team and disregard the ones that will not.
Also, be careful with misinterpretations. Feedback should never be taken personal; it is just another learning experience that helps you know your stakeholders better and contributes to your growth as a professional and as a leader.
- Learn to balance customer demands and project control
As expressed above, not every feedback will be advantageous or applicable. Sometimes, customers can get carried away when expressing their needs, and that is completely fine. So, although they must be your top priority, you should not forget you are still in charge, and you are the one who makes the call in case there is a problem to solve or a decision to make.
Just remember demonstrating solid project control shows how confident you feel as a Project Manager and how much knowledge you have of the industry.
- Measure your customer’s satisfaction
Send surveys to your customers and encourage them to complete them in a truthful way. Efficiency and satisfaction can only be guaranteed by knowing which are the strongest and lowest points of your processes.
In a nutshell, Project Managers have many responsibilities within the development of a project. They are the touch point between the company and the customers and that is why they must stay vigilant and ensure communication flows correctly throughout the whole process. But do not panic, everything will run smoothly as long as you know which your priorities are, and how to carry them out properly.
Jeannette L. Collazo, MSMIS, PMP brings more than two decades of stellar project management success and bilingual expertise to her work helping companies institute IT projects, data migration and data center transformation. She established Lurdez Consulting Group (the name Lurdez is taken from her middle name) in 2018 with a vision of offering exceptional project management services as a diversity-driven company that advances young women in the field of information technology.