I found the first article below when scrolling through the Project Management Interest Group on LinkedIn. Check it out: (https://www.linkedin.com/grp/home?gid=37888&trk=my_groups-tile-flipgrp).
“Becoming the Master of Client ‘Touch’” sparked my interest as I deal with clients on a daily basis. The word “touch” represents contact with a client that let’s them know you are thinking about them as well as things that may be significant to them. The article provides examples of client “touches” such as hand-delivering a proposal, sending industry specific articles to clients, and sending tools or check lists that make their lives easier.
In summary, the article highlights how the project manager has a responsibility to reach out to clients in quick, meaningful way that ultimately make the client feel comfortable with you. I see clients work with those they truly feel comfortable working with time and time again in my line of work. It is important to keep in mind all of the great skills we learn getting our MBA, but it is also very much about relationships we form.
The second article, “Managing Projects, Helping People,” suggests numerous ways that a project manager can walk the fine line of managing a project and a client relationship. Two aspects from the article I have found successful in client relationships are being honest and being an educator.
Being honest includes discussing how something may be a challenge for your team. By being honest, the client may be able to bring a perspective to the particular challenge you had not thought of previously. You can also include the client in the decision-making process to help build harmony on ideas. I have found explaining concepts, financials or outcomes in an honest light (i.e. why we are losing money on a particular portion of their business) and most importantly showing the client alternatives are a key part of the long-term relationship with the client.
Continuous education to the client can be a long-term benefit to the client/manager relationship. Often times the client hires a team, led by the project manager, because they are not knowledgeable about a topic. The article suggests using your expertise and starting from the beginning of the process explaining things at a high-level. It is important to detail and explain what things mean line-by-line.
When the project team presents a deliverable, it is key to take the time to educate the client on deliverable when can make it faster for decision-making. Six short steps can aid in successful presentation of deliverables:
- Start with short history of project highlights strategy and goals as well as what has been done to date.
- Explain what the deliverable is meant to do and how it will impact any downstream decisions.
- Present the deliverable thoroughly and with enthusiasm, covering the process behind the decision and variations that were discussed.
- Conclude presentation with a series of guiding questions
- Give client time to think and review before discussing
- Always receive formal feedback and follow-ups in writing