As a Delivery Lead, I play a crucial role in building meaningful relationships with our clients, going beyond the conventional focus on timelines and deliverables. When it comes to client management at Potato, empathy is my secret sauce. It's about understanding clients on a deeper level, beyond their business objectives. It's about appreciating their precise demanding situations, aspirations, and the human aspect of their expert roles.
Walk in Their Shoes: To clearly connect with our clients, we want to step into their shoes. What pressures are they facing? What are their long-term goals? By understanding their world, we are then better-equipped to provide solutions that are best suited to their needs.
Active Listening: Empathy starts with active listening. We don't just pay attention to words; we pay attention for the nuances, the unspoken worries, and the tone in their voice. Listening sometimes reveals that what the client wants isn't always what they need. So, if you've really paid attention, you can steer the client's project in the right direction, avoiding the frustration of ending up with an off-target deliverable. When clients feel heard, they feel valued.
Open Communication: At Potato, we foster an environment where open conversation flourishes. Clients should feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, even if it means raising concerns or changing the approaches. This degree of trust is built on empathy. Same applies internaly and in a previous article, I explained how to embrace unconfortable growth with your team.
Managing client expectations, especially when you anticipate a delay
The foundation of managing client expectations is transparency. As soon as you believe there is probably a delay, communicate this to your client. Always provide an explanation for the reasons at the back of it, whether it’s due to unforeseen challenges, resource constraints, or any other factors. Don't leave your client hanging. Offer a revised timeline for when they could realistically count on the deliverables. Be positive to account for capability setbacks, buffer time and make the clients aware of any risks or future delay.
Share the steps you and your team are taking to mitigate the delay. This could include extra sources, extended working hours, or different techniques to get the project back on target or with minimised repercussions on timelines. If the delay is significant and impacts the client's plans, be prepared to offer alternatives or workarounds. This might involve prioritising certain aspects of the project or providing interim solutions. Client feedback is crucial during this process. Listen to their concerns, answer their questions, and be open to their suggestions.
Sometimes, clients may have valuable insights or be more flexible than you think. Keep the client informed throughout the process. Regular updates, even if it's to say that things are progressing as planned, show that you're actively managing the situation. While addressing the delay, emphasise your dedication to delivering high-quality product or service. Clients regularly recognize the determination to excellence even if it takes a bit more time. Ensure all communications regarding the delay and its control are documented. This helps in case of any disputes or if the delay leads to settlement renegotiations.
Remember, the secret is to be proactive, honest, and client-focused. Clients typically understand that delays can happen, but how you manage and communicate it to them makes a massive difference in client satisfaction and the overall success of the project.
The Scheduling Advantage
Now, let's talk about the nuts and bolts of client management: scheduling. It might seem mundane, but it's a game-changer.
At the core of my client management philosophy, I've anchored several fundamental ideas that underscore my unwavering dedication to provide great value and service. A key pillar of this approach is the synchronisation of calendars, an easy yet profoundly powerful approach.
By harmonising our schedules with the availability of our clients, we effortlessly cast off the hassles of protracted e-mail exchanges and scheduling conflicts. This streamlines our operations but also showcases our dedication to respecting the precious resource that is our clients' time.
As a team, we make it a priority to be punctual and preserve our meetings' focus, not only as a show of our professionalism but as a method to strengthen our client relationships. In the world of client management, I understand that life can be unpredictable, and our clients may find themselves grappling with unexpected challenges. It's at some point in those moments that I, alongside my team, wholeheartedly include the power of flexibility in our scheduling practices.
Whether it requires a reschedule or a rapid reaction to a last-minute request, we approach these situations with empathy and understanding. Our clients discover solace in our accommodations and perceive our real commitment to addressing their ever-evolving needs. This flexible mind-set cultivates an environment of collaboration and mutual appreciation, putting the tone for unique and meaningful client interactions.
In product development, issues can pop up unexpectedly. When they do, it's vital to communicate promptly with our clients. It's not just about troubleshooting; it's about reassuring our clients that we've got their backs. So let’s remember that client management is an art, and it thrives on empathy, open communication and strategic scheduling.
By understanding our clients on a personal level and respecting their time, we build bonds that extend beyond business transactions. We create partnerships based totally on trust, and collectively, we achieve incredible success.
Behind every project, each meeting, and each milestone, there is a human story. Empathy and thoughtful scheduling could make all of the difference.
Whether it's launching, fixing or scaling a product, we deliver work that is right the first time. If you're looking for a partner to create solid foundations to set you up for future success, get in touch.