As a Project Managers, we wear many hats. That’s what we do. At times we are translators, coaches, mediators, customer complaint departments, anger outlets, heroes, quality controllers, financial controllers, file pushers, consultant, schedulers, and billing departments in one day.
Project Managing can be STRESSFUL. But somehow we all still love the feeling of accomplishment when a project has been delivered on time, on budget and on quality. It’s that feeling of success when we crossed off one more item on our to-do list. A happy customer makes a happy project manager. It’s that easy. It is also true that we crash and burn now and then. No one can sustain that number of important and urgent tasks every hour, every minute. Beating deadlines, fighting fires, correcting mistakes (often those of others) takes its toll. Does it have to?
In a work world where deadlines rule, we often lose sight of the one thing that makes us great at our jobs. Our desire to help others succeed and make the job for the next person in line easier. It sounds simple, and you’d think that we attend to this desire every day. But reality is, that you and I are too busy wearing all the other hats and often are not getting to attend to the most important and not urgent ones, such as planning, strategizing, training ourselves and others, building relationships, and rejuvenating.
Here is the thing, though. The more we engage our customers, the fewer urgencies we get and the more time we have for the things that matter most to us. And yes, that includes family and a social life. Because in addition to every other hat, we also wear those of parents, family, friends, spouse and partner.
Now, customer engagement is complicated, because the secret is, we need to wear our sales hat also. Engaging the customer often means suggesting new ways of processing work or offering additional services or technology solutions. And that can make us feel like Danny DeVito as the used car salesman in Matilda. It’s not because we despise sales. To the contrary, we love sales, because we know that our sales team brings in the jobs that we need to thrive and grow. But for us, it’s yet another hat to wear. And if we were good at wearing it, we may have become a sales person instead.
But it’s not about sales. It’s about our relationship with the customer. Forbes.com says that 86% of buyers will PAY MORE for a better customer experience, yet only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations. So chances are, you and I have some of those customers also.
Let’s zero in on this. Are you getting change requests that seem to come from nowhere? Do you face quality issues that are mostly preferential changes? Do you experience scope creep in projects for which no one wants to pay? These are surefire signs that you are not engaged enough with your customers. What you are seeing is a customer who is struggling on with their own work program and is just throwing the work over the fence to you.
Your customers need help or in their words: A better customer experience. They may have originally come to you because they needed help with translating content. They may not know that you are also able to translate content in InDesign files and deliver fully localized files back. They may not be aware of automation opportunities to exchange content between web CMS and translation technology. They may not think about the possibility of you managing their in-country review.
Engaging your customers will make them aware of your capabilities. Offering these is the first step of making things easier for your customers. It’s helping them, not selling them. And yes, you do want to get paid for your work or that of your colleagues. Your time, expertise and commitment are worth it. We cannot separate service operations from sales. Sales is to operations as air is to breathing.
So begin engaging your customers now. Begin with finding answers to four basic questions:
- What are you getting from the customer (and why)?
- What will you do with it (and how)
- What will you deliver back to the customer (and why)?
- What is the customer going to do with your deliverables (and who on the customer side will be doing it)?
For more information and some tips and tricks, check out our web page here!
Want to get a head start for engaging your customers? Speak with us in person? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an initial interest appointment today!
So go ahead, take all those hats off and put back on that hat you know and love best. You deserve it.