Sound familiar? (Hopefully not too familiar.)
The best of the best consulting groups are dedicated to customer success. By following these best practices, you will realize great results and create successful customers:
- Understand your client’s business requirements.
Take the time to analyze your client’s unique situation; you’ll gain insight that can vastly improve the project’s success rate. Most of the time, clients hesitate to specifically identify the root issues, and you’ll need to dig a bit. By doing so, you’ll be able to provide not just an adequate solution, but one that provides long term value. Even solutions with limitations can still provide great value. For example, process best practices, e.g., workarounds and UX tips, are helpful when the product is not customizable. The key to a successful engagement with your client is acknowledging limitations and working with them instead of working against, or around, them.
- Value honesty, directness, and transparency.
It can be difficult to say no to a client, or to challenge project stakeholders, but it’s necessary if it means the success of the project. While challenging a client may sting initially, they will respect and appreciate you in the long run. Similarly, when you make a mistake, acknowledge it immediately. Trying to sweep issues under the rug will only backfire, leaving a bad taste in your client’s mouth.
- Develop a well-defined transition process.
When a project has concluded, you should ensure your client has the ability to be independently successful going forward. For immediate questions, they should be able to turn to any help documentation you’ve shared and reviewed prior to completion. This should include not only documentation about the project but FAQ’s, information about enhancement requests, and any other relevant notes. Naturally, documentation of this sort is never entirely comprehensive. Your support group should be notified of the project’s completion and given access to most (if not all) of the documentation available. Due to everyone’s busy schedules, it is often helpful to schedule a quick 15 to 30 minute overview meeting (it must be productive, of course) to cover the high level points.
- Establish long-term relationships.
The three points above help lay the foundation for long term business relationships. Taking the time to do things right is mutually beneficial: your clients meet their business goals and you’ll have laid the foundation for an ongoing partnership.
Matt Netkow is a Senior Developer for SAVO Consulting and values honesty, directness, transparency, and long walks on the beach. He can be reached at email@example.com.