Notes from a Project Manager: 9 Ways to Love Your Client (Even When It's Hard to Imagine)

April 11th, 2017

Business Processes / Wiki // Natalie

Project managers are the advocates for both sides - the medium between the developers and clients. Sometimes this job is easy, sometimes not - mostly because we’re all human. But how can you make the cooperation more pleasant from your side?

We work in a client-oriented business, so besides delivering great products and services, we should aim to make our clients happy.

When you focus on your client’s needs, then the relationship is off to a great start. How do you do it?

  1. Forget about your product or service. Well, not altogether, but put it on the back burner, so that you can focus on what your client is telling you instead of simply thinking how you can sell your work to him/her. Sometimes we focus so much on what we do that we forget about the important parts of our work - people we work with.
  2. Find out what your client wants and needs. Oftentimes, we want to focus on the “need” part since it’s usually perceived as something incredibly important, while “wants” are ignored. Listen to both. Sometimes needs and wants correlate. Sometimes, to make your client happy, you do need to include his/her wants (or else he/she won’t like the product).
  3. Focus on their needs as the foundation.

Think of ordering a cappuccino in the morning. You are half-asleep, desperately craving some caffeine in your blood. You stop by a coffee shop and get your coffee, but the barista didn’t even ask if you want cinnamon or syrup in your drink. You did get a great-tasting coffee (the product), but you didn’t feel welcome (service). On the other hand, if the barista makes you feel special (and not because he/she is flirting with you, but as a customer), the service level rises and even if the coffee is not 100% great, you still might get a croissant. First of all, we should aim at serving people we work with and delivering a great product is second (and oftentimes is caused by the first goal.)

An important note here: if your core business is making coffee, make the best coffee possible. But remember about people you’re making this coffee for.

Chain of Happy Clients Behavior

How do you get your client love you?

DO MORE. Outshine your competitors by making “one additional step” towards your client than your competitors. Be your client’s partner and let him/her know they can rely on you. Always keep in mind that it’s much better to “underpromise and overperform” than vice versa.

FIX, DON’T GET RID. Avoiding or ignoring problems has never helped anyone. If some feature isn’t working as it should, don’t dismiss it as unnecessary right away - try figuring out what can be done (and offer at least a couple of possible solutions.)

THE POWER OF THE WORD OF MOUTH. Be careful with what you say, what you recommend, and what you project into the world.  In fact, word of mouth is more effective than any other kind of marketing, according to Nielsen. Their research showed that 84% of consumers from all over the world trust recommendations from their friends and relatives.

What’s more, according to the Wharton School of Business, a customer you acquire from WOM has a 16-25% higher lifetime value than those you acquire from other sources.

All of this is a reason to begin your relationship with the client even before he/she becomes your client. Relationships rule the world.  

BE AUTHENTIC & TRANSPARENT. If there is something that you don’t know how to do (yet) or there’s something that you excel at, don’t be shy to tell your client. Especially with the things that can be considered weak points, it’s better to find out about them right away. Granted, don’t diminish yourself in the eyes of the client, either. Be honest about your team’s abilities. This will greatly help in building customer loyalty (because they will know that you would tell them if anything happened.)

Transparency is also an important point. While being authentic is about being yourself and being genuine, transparency is about being forthcoming, ethical, and trustworthy.

MANAGE CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS. Too many negative experiences with clients actually boil down to unmet expectations. The good news is that you can fairly easily prevent this from happening by managing expectations from the beginning.

  1. Find out right away what your client wants and needs. Details matter.
  2. Be honest about the terms and time estimates.
  3. Remember: it’s hard to overcommunicate.

TREAT YOUR CUSTOMERS WELL. 82% of consumers report that they’ve left a company entirely due solely to a bad customer experience, which shows the importance of customer relationship management.

ACTIVE LISTENING & FOLLOWING THROUGH. Active listening is a technique where, basically, you’re actively listening to the person you’re talking with (in our case, the client). While many of the meetings are done online these days over Skype or other networks and it’s somewhat harder to watch the body language, still try.

Another useful thing about active listening - keep an open mind. Listen first to what your client is telling you (write down questions or comments, if such arise). Some of the things may seem out of this planet at first, but you might find that actually, they make sense once you had enough time to think them over.

“MANAGE” DISTRAUGHT PEOPLE. No matter what kind of relationship you have with your client, there will be times when something goes wrong (it might not even be your fault).

Specify what you’ll do to make things right for your customers in various situations. Most often you already have an idea of where things might go wrong in your business model. (Force majeure also might happen and it’s harder to prepare for, but possible.)

Don’t be afraid to go the extra mile. For instance, you can send a loyalty card or small discount after the problem is resolved. Above all, listen and offer empathy and compassion, not a fake “Oh, I’m so sorry you’re having a problem with that” kind of reaction.

LEARN TO SAY GOOD-BYE. No one likes those, but they are a necessary evil at times. Don’t cling to the poorly-performing customers, who keep dragging your down and costing you more than you’re earning from them. Don’t let the clients abuse you.

That said, always remember that your client is first and foremost a human being, just like you, and he/she might have personal issues going on like:

  • He is currently going through divorce
  • Her kids were late getting ready for the kindergarten in the morning
  • He is physically sick
  • She has financial problems
  • His mother came over for a week to hang out with the family…

Try not to take things your client tells you personally. Instead, analyze the reasons why she/he may be saying or complaining about that.

As love is an everyday practice, and if you do it every day to your client, he will not find any argument to be unsatisfied with you and you will feel how your behavior changes to him, you will start loving him. Love is hard work but not a one-time passion.

Do these steps and your customers will fall in love with you. (Except that one client, who… just kidding.)

Would you like to get web or mobile project developed?

Author: Natalie

Project Manager who is a great team leader for her mobile development team. She is an expert when it comes to iOS and Android development and to building apps that win markets. In her free time, she loves traveling in the mountains and dancing.

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