Both you and your customers hope you do the right thing for moving a project forward. However, the views on what exactly that right thing is might be different on both sides. In the worst case scenario, mismatched expectations get your client frustrated. And you don't want that to happen, do you? In order to eliminate such risk and make sure you and your clients are on the same page, it makes sense to actively involve them in the projects from the very start.
Want to know how? Check out today's podcast with Meredith Eisenberg, where she shares her business secrets and one-fits-all approach to involving customers in projects. The founder of "Tame the Internet Monster," she helps small companies leverage the power of online marketing. And one of the main things that make her business a success is the tight, productive relationship established with customers.
Meredith's ideas make a neat step-by-step guide that will be helpful for a business of any kind:
1. Let your customers understand your plans
"I always start my customers' onboarding with creating a very detailed Gantt chart and share it on my screen with them to discuss everything in great detail.
The main goal, at this point, is to show that their huge projects consist of a number of tiny little steps. I make them understand that it is something like eating an elephant one bite at a time. This transparency in plans helps to establish trustful relationships from the very beginning."
2. Build communication around the tool your customers already use
"I never force anyone to change the way they work with information. Instead, I take them from where they are. I have some customers heavily in Google Docs. Some keep everything in their iCalendar, and others rely only on e-mails. And that's fine, since my project management system supports integration with any of these.
It's fabulous – regardless of how my customers work with information, I still have everything in one centralized place. I can easily see all tasks for all projects and plan the workload for my team."
3. Fine-tune the scope of involvement
"All my clients are different, and I have different relationships with each of them. Some people love having full control over tasks and people, and want to participate in allocating resources and managing the workload. In this case, I create an account in Wrike for them and give them full access to everything they want!
Others don't want to go into project management at all, and just check their Google Calendar once in a while. But if they want to get the list of tasks for next month in an Excel table, with Wrike, I can easily give it to them.
People in general don't want to learn new tools, and they greatly appreciate when they are kept updated in the way they are used to. With its integration capabilities, and with no additional efforts, Wrike helps us make customers much happier! Each customer has exactly as much of involvement as they would like to have."
4. Keep completed projects as templates
"To set up a new project, I just pull down different elements I had in projects with other customers and put them into a new plan. This way, I have my tasks and check lists ready in several minutes!
The system's ability to copy folders with sets of to-do's makes this very easy and quick. I'm able to impress my customers with my efficiency from the first few minutes!"
These four simple tricks help Meredith involve her customers in projects and make interactions easy and enjoyable for both sides. Clients get as much involvement as they are ready to take, and they work with the information exactly the way they are used to. This helps a lot to avoid misunderstandings and, eventually, make customers feel happy.
By the way, Meredith, the brave Monster Tamer, became our first customer to be featured in a videocast! Check it out to find out some prominent facts about Meredith's business: