15 Dec Communication is the buzz word your customers actually want to hear from you
Regular, accurate communication with your customers can help you through just about any situation. Even when things are going poorly, the more you inform your customer about the status of things, the better it is for everyone.
What method works best for updates is between you and your customer. However, it’s a good idea to tailor your update to address points that are particularly relevant to certain customers. The updates might include photos, sketches, test results, calculations, and anything else that can help the customer understand exactly what’s going on. Make sure to only include required or useful information. You want to put together a tightly packaged executive summary that the customer can read and understand quickly. Your contact can then hand the same report to their own project team, quickly bringing everyone up to speed on the progress of the project and any hurdles that may have cropped up.
However, there may be occasions when it might seem easier to keep bad news from the customer. Giving bad news is never an easy task, and no one likes to receive bad news, especially when the receiver has little or nothing to do with the reason for the bad news. As difficult as it may be, keeping the customer updated will almost always have better consequences when compared to keeping them in the dark.
This kind of information sharing also helps create a better partnership between vendor and customer. Even if the going is tough, it always pays to have the customer know the status of things. Keeping your customer in-the-know makes them feel like more than simply a customer, but a partner in the project. The more you can do to make your customer feel like an equal partner, the better the results for everyone involved. Giving them all the news, good or bad, helps to develop and sustain a level of trust between the parties that makes it easier for everyone to get what they need out of the project.
By making your customer a partner in their project through timely communication of both good and bad news, you can increase your customers satisfaction even if the unfortunate prospect of being unable to finish a project exactly on time or exactly on budget becomes a reality.
Source: Project Management for Profit by Roger Thomas, Joe Knight and Brad Angus, together with input from Joe Cornwell and Joe Van Den Berghe from Setpoint Inc. Setpoint has a 25-year history of successfully designing and implementing custom rides and attractions for the top amusement and theme parks in the world.