What Your Clients Need, But Don’t Ask For
Edited: April 2023
Your client calls very upset because you did not do what you said you were going to do. And because of this, their Board is talking about looking for another firm to complete the project. You are shocked because from your point of view, the project is going extremely well. You learn that the client is upset because he has not been updated about the project as expected. And he is embarrassed because it appears to the Board that he doesn’t have the project under control. This makes no sense because you’ve texted several very detailed updates. Where is the disconnect? It turns out that he is not an avid text user and he did not see your text updates.
AT A GLANCE
To keep clients in the loop and confident in your project management skills:
Establish key communication channels
Proactively deliver updates
Never leave a client guessing
ESTABLISH PREFERENCES IN PROJECT KICK-OFF MEETING
Clients have different preferences for communication and updates. How do you know what they are if you don’t ask them?
Establish frequency of contact – daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, only as needed
Establish best means of contact – email, phone, text, etc.
Give a second (or multiple) point of contact
Identify who on your project team is overseeing client service QC (internal)
Without fail – notify client of schedule changes and potential missed milestones/deadlines.
Client Quote: “Though I was told the project would be ready by the end of June, the deadline came and went without a word from the firm. Extending the timeline wasn’t actually a problem, but not knowing about it caused issues and left us feeling less confident in them.”
Without fail – notify clients about a change in the project management team and reassure them that the hand-off will be informed and seamless from their perspective.
Client Quote: “I called the firm to speak to my point of contact only to learn that he was no longer with the firm. This was completely unexpected and caused alarm with our team and the Board.”
Update and communicate internally and keep all partners in the loop.
Client Quote: “Issue resolution was made difficult when the firm didn’t communicate changes in the field sufficiently with the designer or owners, or what those changes would require.”
Never leave a client waiting for a reply to an inquiry at the end of the day/week.
Client Quote: “The PM is very proactive and always keeps me updated. I never feel like I am left hanging.”