Do you wish that your project stakeholders were a bit more involved, or that you knew what they were thinking? You can find out – you just have to ask them. One technique I use is to ask project stakeholders (whom I call customers, as they are the customers of the project management process) how they think the project is going. I ask them the same questions each month, and ask them to sum up by giving me and the project a score out of 10.
You can easily apply the same method. Here are 10 tips for being more customer-centric on your projects.
- Keep satisfaction scoring criteria as simple as possible. I use a scale of 1 to 10.
- Use a simple process to record, measure and monitor satisfaction levels. I use a spreadsheet that allows me to capture the score and also any verbatim comments.
- Deliver on your promises. If you listen to feedback, make sure that you act on it too!
- Ensure that outsourcing partners and other third parties are fully included: they are also important for gaining customer satisfaction on projects as projects don’t happen in a vacuum.
- A focus on specifics delivers the most value to customers. Find out what is causing people the most grief and fix it.
- If you want project team members to engage with stakeholders and take customer-centricity seriously, build it into the way you assess performance. Put it in their performance review as an objective and assess them on their scores for their projects at the end of the year.
- Satisfied customers make useful allies in difficult times. Stick with it, and your project customers will stick with you if (or when) the project takes a nose dive.
- Try to gather lots of data and set up monthly meetings for short projects. At the start of the project nothing much will have happened for the project customer to comment about. By the time it is over, a post-implementation review will be adequate to give you some useful information. Sometimes one meeting towards the end is good enough.
- Use email. I believe that you get a richer and more useful picture from oral conversations with project customers instead of through written transcripts. Carry out customer-satisfaction reviews in person or over the phone. Email is a last resort.
- Ignore things that seem irrelevant to you. Talking to customers and stakeholders will often uncover issues that are nothing to do with the project at all, such as system downtime and issues with suppliers. Pass these on to the people who are best placed to deal with them.
Read more about how to engage stakeholders and set up ongoing dialogues with people in my book, Customer-Centric Project Management.