What happens to your business when your project managers (PMs) are not able to satisfy customers? It shows up on the bottom line. Here’s how:
Customer loyalty hinges on satisfaction. Satisfaction is the degree to which a company’s products or services meet or exceed customer expectations. According to White House Office of Consumer Affairs, on average, “loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.”
It is well known that customers tell others about poor products and services far more frequently than they do the good ones. In today’s media, there’s an accelerated and wide-ranging ability to pass along news of unfavourable satisfaction. There goes your brand.
To keep your customers loyal, make customer satisfaction a core part of your project management competency framework. The Project Management Institute (PMI®) includes this skill set in its talent triangle.
Previous newsletters have addressed stake-holder management, and while that’s part of the satisfaction process, our focus for this one is on those persons who benefit from the results of the project. Customers can be consumers, another business, or even an internal or external sponsor—a person or entity who funds the project.
Teach PMs to know your customers’ expectations of the product or service.
Customers have expectations, and when it is confirmed that they received what was promised, the company has another loyal customer. This should go way beyond collecting requirements. Sometimes expectations are never articulated until they’ve not been met. Teach PMs how to extract and manage expectations.
Insist that customers be satisfied with the project process.
Give your PMs robust and predictable systems, tools, and support. Ensure that policies, objectives, and responsibilities of the project will satisfy them. Teach your PMs to involve customers in planning. For example, plans for any type of user acceptance testing. And while project close-out is rarely the most favorite set of tasks, there should be a high level of emphasis for planning the hand-off to the customer. Deploying the solution, product, or unique result of the project is critical. It may be that “last impression” that brings the customer back for repeat business with your firm.
Expect your PMs to master the skill of establishing and maintaining profitable relationships.
Ensure they know how to take the pulse of the customer, or are trained to really hear the voice of the customer. While most concur that the agile approach emphasizes or drives interaction and collaboration with the customer, your organization may have to take special measures if you manage traditional waterfall projects. Encourage PMs to stay tuned in over the life of the project. Give them confidence that senior management of the company can be counted on to spend time with the customer whether the relationships is going well or not. Have in place a way for the PM (and the company) to monitor the effect of the engagement. And, if relevant to your project or service, a check in well after the project is closed out.
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