Promoting Service Excellence
One of the core values Insentra is built upon is SERVICE EXCELLENCE. This ethos was one of the main selling points for me when joining the company. For those who have known me and worked with me throughout my career, I'm an advocate for Service Excellence, promoting and providing excellent customer service. I love exceeding customer expectations.
As one of the founders of Insentra, Ronnie Altit, eloquently discusses the key to Service Excellence in his renowned Insentra Train Story;
“For passengers to have the best experience on the train, the workers must be having the best experience first. Internal service excellence. Making the train run smoothly. Making sure we’ve always got enough coal. Making sure we’ve got the right people who can shovel the coal. Making sure when we get something wrong, we know how we can do it better, learn how to do it better and then DO it better. Making us internally excellent first is the only way we can deliver service excellence externally. That’s why we have a Service Excellence Manager to take us on that journey. To look at what we’re doing and see how we can do it better internally to deliver that outstanding customer experience”.
So how do we strive to deliver fantastic customer service and strive for Service Excellence in the Project Management arena? Like businesses who provide great customer service, Project Managers need to talk and engage with their 'customers' effectively too.
Project Management principles focus on core fundamentals:
- Sound planning with clear and concise project schedules detailing critical path, dependencies and owners
- Review and Reporting - Effective reviews and accurate reporting to ensure we get most of the Project
- Unbiased judgment and decision making to minimise any grey areas
- Motivation and goal setting to make sure everyone on the project team stays focusedand delivers
- Succinct communications on the progress of the project to the Project Team, identified stakeholders and to the respective Project Management Office
Whilst good Project Managers can put all these core philosophies into tangible actions and produce results, they’re still relatively shielded from the day-to-day “customer” routine. Organisations embark on projects which benefit the end-user, but only the best Project Managers understand the user impact or even why users request certain features and functionality. If you believe your customers define your business, then it makes sense to have your Project Managers understand and appreciate the customer engagement lifecycle. Below are my tips on how customer-focused Project Managers promote better service excellence.
1. Communication - Helping to establish and communicate expectations to our customers
Project Managers need to know customer expectations well. They already know the importance of communication to their PMO, management and executive leadership team and how to apply it to their customers. Rather than talking to customers about whether they could make use of a certain feature or initiative, we should use it to understand their expectations better. It’s important to distinguish and identify with the customer’s ability to state problems and their ability to outline symptoms aligned to their expectations. By talking with customers regularly, Project Managers can improve their ability to prescribe answers and solutions based on expectations rather than just “stated” problems. At the end of the day, a customer’s own experience is shaped by how well your product aligns with their expectations. When you’re able to apply concrete ideas and processes to abstract expectations, engagement skyrockets!
2. Better Together
Insentra has a philosophy of ‘One Team, One Dream’. By owning customer expectations, our value to the project teams increases. Compiling a list of customer expectations is wildly different than understanding them. Project Managers who can draw these connections tend to work more cohesively with other teams of an organisation.
The fact is customer expectations can be gathered and interpreted differently by different teams. Just as talking to customers on a regular basis can foster healthy partnerships, interacting with other teams internally on pivotal data points can provide new perspectives on how to interpret customer feedback.
As Project Managers, we can deliver better results which not only satisfy internal stakeholders but also customers with unrivalled credibility. This often leads to successfully securing future business.
Demonstrating this early in the project lifecycle, especially during the initial stages of the sales cycle, helps to define and shape the customer's expectations. One of the main critical success factors in Project Delivery is minimal disruption to the customers daily routines and maintaining engagement throughout the project.
3. Transparency - Fight for transparency
Projects, products and businesses fail when customer engagement dwindles. Successful project delivery is not possible when customers feel disconnected, suspicious or under-valued. Project Managers are strongly encouraged to instil the same strong sense of transparency to their customers as they would with their own team's day-to-day processes.
#Trust and transparency trickle down to customers who in turn respect businesses that display #Honesty. Which means; no unwanted surprises, hidden agendas, lack of information or confusion when it comes to their own productivity. Being transparent also keeps important expectations flowing in both directions.
Ultimately this means projects are more likely to deliver a successful outcome, providing value to all parties, on point and always provide value to both parties. Project Managers who can fight for transparency succeed most in their ability to define #accountability as well. Customers will actively engage with you more when they understand they are accountable for providing feedback and you are accountable for delivering the best product or service.
4. Balance - Learn to balance customer needs and project control
Project Managers need to effectively exercise and communicate strict degrees of project control. By talking to customers, Project Managers can aid and prioritise customer goals with better understanding and help steer companies away from projects which have no value or measurable benefit. While customer feedback is important, everything has a priority.
Stakeholders can, and do, get carried away when it comes to expressing their needs and providing their feedback. It can be counter-productive to agree to everything, or to even acknowledge everything said as gospel. In fact, customers engage more effectively when they can simply have a conversation about their needs. The occasional “No, because” will go a lot further than always saying “Yes”. It demonstrates solid project control which adheres to a set road map and displays confidence in the knowledge of an industry. It also reinforces to the customer the relationship is shared.
These are some of my tips to how I strive to deliver fantastic customer service and promoting #Service Excellence in my role as a Project Manager at Insentra. I would love to hear your tips or suggestions on promoting service excellence.
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