Project Management and Customer Experience – How do they work together?

Customer Experience

When it comes to project management, there is one aspect that is all too often overlooked, and this is the element of the customer experience. Rightly so, a lot of time is spent focusing on the required tasks of a project; the team, the cost and the timescales. However, it is all too easy to forget that ultimately, the outcome of the project is to provide a service to the customer.

Experts from Parallel Project Training always say that a good project manager is one who remembers that the sponsor is a customer, and that in order to be the best they should be doing those things that might elsewhere be considered to be “customer service”.  With this in mind, let’s take an in-depth look at some of the services that a project manager can provide that will keep customers coming back.

Understand the goals and benefits

When a sponsor asks you to run a project this is in order to deliver something that aligns with their overall goals. You need to make sure that you understand these goals. This will help you to communicate more effectively with the sponsor, and it will highlight the things that other project managers may overlook. When you understand the exact reasoning behind what you have been asked to do, you are more likely to complete a project that ticks all of the sponsor’s boxes, so remember to ask questions and make sure you understand exactly what you are being asked.

Regular communication

The biggest takeaway from any project manager course that you take will be that communication is your biggest tool as a project manager. As a customer yourself, there is a good chance you will have had to chase things up when an order you were waiting for hasn’t arrived. Having to do this can often put you in a bad mood before you even get through to someone. Being informed of delays before you need to chase them offers a much better customer experience, and the same can be said when you are working on a project. Whether the information you have to impart is good or bad, regular updates with your sponsor are essential. This can also give you a chance to discuss any problems and work through alternative solutions.

Regular updates will help your sponsor to feel like they are being kept in the loop and ensure that you have open dialogue.

Offer options

Project management is all about avoiding surprises. You need to be able to create a predictable delivery environment where you can not only bring your project under control but also where you will be able to anticipate those things that may end up going wrong. Much of this means not sitting on any issues. You should obviously work to resolve anything that goes wrong, but you should make sure that you are not keeping issues secret. A good project manager will share problems openly so that the team can be involved in constructive conversations to help solve the problems.

When you simply report that there is a problem, and there is little more than that, this is not good project management. Whilst there is no denying that it is better than not reporting it at all, it is important to also be doing something about a problem. When you think of this in terms of customer service, reporting something was wrong to a supplier and then nothing being done about it would not be the outcome that you would be looking for, you would almost certainly want a solution or an alternative option.

This is the same in project management. All issues should be reported as soon as possible; however you should also look at the problem and see if any solutions come to mind so that you can also suggest these when you refer the issue to your sponsor, in this way you are offering a much better service. Offer them options rather than presenting a problem and asking what they want doing about it.

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Make things easy for them

The one thing that you should be doing is making things easy for your customers. Great customer service is something that we have all, hopefully, experienced at least once and it is something that you want to shout from the rooftops about when it happens. As a project manager, the right feedback from customers is a great thing that can lead not only to a great feeling that you and your team are doing a great job but could also result in bigger and better projects in the future.

In project management, it is a good idea to anticipate any questions that a sponsor may have so that you can potentially have an answer ready for them. It is about ensuring that your sponsor understands exactly what they can expect from you and also at what point during the project you may need something from them. It is all about making sure that there are no surprises along the way.

Put yourself in the place of your customer

At some point it is important to take a moment to consider what things you would want to know about if you were actually the sponsor of the project. For the majority of projects, it isn’t difficult to identify the key deliverables of the project, or even the significant milestones that the customer may want to be updated on, and if you can’t work them out you can always ask. Your customer will be happy to tell you when they want to be updated on and what is of the most importance to them.

Think about those customer experiences that have made you happy, and ponder those that have not, and think about what made them good experiences. This is what you should be looking to bring to your management style.

As a project manager, there are a few things that you can put in place that will really help you to improve the experience for your customer, and it is these little things that could make a big impression on your customer.

Francis Nwokike

Francis Nwokike is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Total Entrepreneurs. A Social Entrepreneur and experienced Disaster Manager. He loves researching and discussing business trends and providing startups with valuable insights into running a profitable business. He created TTE to share ideas and tips to help entrepreneurs run and grow their businesses.

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