A whopping 42% of the U.S. labor force is working from home these days, making it harder to work with stakeholders and serve customers. With this being the current state of affairs, a customer-driven project management philosophy could be just the solution project managers have been looking for. 

In recent months we’ve learned firsthand how the absence of in-person meetings makes it more challenging for project managers to look after both stakeholders and customers. Especially if they’ve got more than one assignment or team to look after! 

In this article, we’ll go over exactly how to develop a foolproof project plan using a customer-driven project management philosophy. We’ll also show you some examples from leading brands and share advice for becoming a customer service project manager. We’ll even help you develop relationships with stakeholders through tips that work during times of isolation and beyond. 

So, without further ado, here are some answers to your most important questions about crafting a customer-driven project management philosophy that works for your organization.

What is a service-oriented project?

A service-oriented project is exactly what it sounds like. It’s essentially a project where the customer experience is the number priority. So, instead of only focusing on time, budget, and requirements, a customer service oriented project will work to achieve the client’s idea of success. 

Time, budget, and requirements may very well be part of that. But focusing on the client rather than the end result is much more useful. It will get everyone on the same page, drive better results, and help build long term relationships, so everybody wins. 

What is a customer service project manager?

A customer service project manager is any project manager who has the mindset of a client consultant. Their job is to liaise with both the client and the project team to ensure that the two parties’ goals and priorities for the project are aligned. A customer project manager may also be tasked with facilitating visibility into project progress through status reports or other avenues. 

A customer service project manager also views customers as stakeholders. So their opinions, preferences, and satisfaction are top priority. Not only will this make your customers happier but it may also help your company gain 5.7 times more revenue than their competitors.  

Customer-driven project examples to learn from

  1. Hootsuite: Hootsuite has scaled their customer-driven project management philosophy across an impressive 175 countries using Wrike. They found that personalizing their emails using the details found within projects and client profiles helped make customers feel more connected with their team. Authentically communicate with customer stakeholders by sharing project details with the whole team so everyone can make them feel as important as they are. 
  2. Exploding Kittens: Exploding Kittens gets instant feedback from their customer stakeholders by thinking of their product and its marketing as an experience rather than a card game. The key to their success? A completely harmonized backend process that makes their creative in-person events completely seamless and delightful despite all the moving parts. Aim to please customers with fluid project management structures that deliver high-quality experiences. 
  3. MTD: MTD’s audience asked for robots, so that’s exactly what the company gave them. Even though MTD are experts in design and manufacturing for outdoor power equipment, this new request was challenging. But they were able to pull it off by implementing a project management system that delivered this complex, new customer offering while maintaining a high standard for all their existing products. 

What is a client-centric approach and why customer-centric project management could help your business

We’ve talked about the different benefits of a customer-centric approach to project management. They include improving collaboration, aligning expectations, and driving revenue. 

But that’s not all customer-centric project management will do! It can also help consolidate all your other communication channels. Tasks like instant messaging, emailing, and updates can all be done right within Wrike’s project management solution. Having an all-in-one hub for updates is empowering for your team and your clients because everyone will know what’s going on at any given point. 

How to become a customer-centric project manager

The answer is simple: have the right tools. Communications expert and interim chair of the FIU Department of Communication, Aileen Izquierdo, says that team project software is an efficient way to manage the details that could fall through the cracks. Not only will software allow project managers to provide better campaign transparency, but it will also manage expectations and infuse empathy into communications when dealing with difficult stakeholders from afar. 

So, even though millions are more isolated than ever before, there are plenty of ways project managers can marry strategy with the right tools to overcome our modern-day challenges.  

How to develop a relationship with stakeholders

A stakeholder in project management is anyone who is affected by the outcome of your work. And project stakeholder management is all about developing those relationships further. As you can probably guess, customers are a customer-centric project manager’s favorite and best stakeholders. To be successful in developing those relationships, a project manager has to invest energy into their needs and goals. Yes, it’s easier said than done. Especially if you need to scale those efforts to help thousands of customer-stakeholders at a time. 

But if you want to add a personal touch without overwhelming your team, all you have to do is record relationship details in an accessible place. Then, create a repeatable follow-up system using a workflow template. Assign automated tasks, plan due dates, and save file changes where everyone can see them. Basically, you want to create a project dedicated to client communication that goes beyond the transaction. 

Customers also appreciate a wrinkle-free project experience. So make sure all of your professional services management stays behind the scenes with timeline updates, task reassignments, and scope predictions updated on the backend in real-time. That way you won’t skip a beat no matter what happens! 

Build a customer-driven project management with Wrike

Customer-centric project management is all about using systems that prioritize clients above all else. Creating seamless experiences, communicating more effectively, and building relationships can all be accomplished with Wrike’s project management platform. See how you can go above and beyond for clients with our two-week free trial.