Customers and clients are the number one priority of any business, and maintaining and building relationships with these individuals is an ongoing process.
Businesses have numerous ways of handling this relationship, but project management is not always the first process that comes to mind. Managing and executing projects can be difficult for businesses, but when properly executed, project management can aid in building clients’ trust in a company. Here are different thoughts and tactics to help project managers and their teams in creating and developing better customer and client connection and finally to build better customer relationships.
Communication is key
Whether it’s a phone call, email, or in-person meeting, speaking to a client is the first step in building a relationship. However, it’s not always easy to keep calm when deadlines are looming or a project’s goals change drastically. Managers and team members who keep the following in mind can create opportunities for clear and concise communication:
- Maintain a positive attitude – Even if you feel stressed and overwhelmed, don’t let your clients know. Transmitting these issues to them doesn’t build a client’s confidence in your team. Take a minute before sending off an email or making a phone call to think of one good thing that’s happening.
- Acknowledge the client as an individual – Building a relationship with a client means seeing them as a unique person. Your point of contact is a business representative in your working relationship. Taking the time to ask personalized questions lets that individual know you’re interested in them. Constructing trust makes your points of contact feel comfortable about being open and honest, which helps both them and your team.
- Be clear and concise when transferring knowledge – Sending off a project for approval or review is the pinnacle of a team’s hard work. Nothing brings it down faster when there isn’t a clear hand-off to a client. Prior to delivering a project, put together a complete overview to accompany it, and have other team members review it.
As you scale, your traditional phone system may make communication a difficult task. Adopt a virtual phone system to benefit from auto-attendants, interactive voice response systems, call forwarding, and call transfer. These features ensure your customers are speaking to the right person right away, even if your employees are out of the office.
When sharing information with a client, decide if it will exist on the web or inside a cloud app. Have other individuals test access to these applications. Trying out your systems before clients log in aids in reducing frustration or miscommunication when projects are ready for review.
Once a well-established channel of communication is created, project team members should set out to support it. Any of the tactics on this list can help you in constructing additional client trust and forging a solid relationship.
- Exceed expectations – Teams should work to deliver more than expected. Sending off more work than initially discussed can build goodwill between the client and your company. Project managers and team members can achieve this goal by having a clear plan when assigning tasks to team members.
- Be transparent with clients when possible – Explaining or showing a client how the project developed or happened helps them see the full picture. Discuss how your teams solved problems to give your client a chance to understand why the project had its particular outcome. Pulling this information together for a client is easier when the project team reports all their actions to the manager.
- Show results – Brag a little about a successful project or campaign. Share analytical results to showcase the value of your team and what they do for your client. Utilizing digital tools to collect this information makes it quicker to get together.
Work with Your Team
Outside of customer communication, establishing a good team helps give clients what they need and helps you meet project deadlines. Managers need to keep lines of communication open with their point of contact, and they need to do so with their team members as well.
- Explain the goals – Discuss and affirm how you’ll execute the project, and why it will happen that way, with everyone on the team. If everyone’s on the same page, it can reduce problems arising from misunderstanding. When team members need motivation, try to mix up the schedule if possible, or talk about new ways to meet deadlines.
- Compile all client information – Know where your data is, and who has access to it. This information can include logs from calls, emails, and discussions held with clients. That way, adding new team members in the middle of a project or assigning a client to another team won’t result in data loss.
Work with the sales team on information they collected from the onboarding process. Notes and emails gathered during these introductory discussions are useful when going forward on new projects and deliverables.
By organizing all this data in one place, and delegating access to the proper team members, businesses can reduce lost opportunities from misplaced information or data insecurity resulting from too many people having access to sensitive information. Cloud-based systems, like enterprise resource planning software, are technology solutions companies can use to streamline this process.
- Involve team members when possible – Help team members understand why they’re receiving a task or job by involving them in client conversations. They don’t need to sit in on every conversation but including them can benefit everyone by reducing the need to ask or answer questions about why something is happening. If this option isn’t available, create a process for logging client calls and share those logs with people on the team.
When teams incorporate any of the tactics discussed here, they can find building better customer relationships becomes a natural part of project management. Alleviating some of the stress and workload on your sales or customer management teams can produce outsize results. Businesses that continue to evolve their project team’s roles and responsibilities see a return on this investment with happier clients.