How to ‘deliver’ – the key tenets to establishing partnerships with your clients

Author - Roz Woodroffe

Posted By Roz Woodroffe Project Manager

Date posted 9th Nov 2020

Category Project Management

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Over the last year at 93digital we’ve been driving towards improved client focus. But delivering client focus and prioritising great service isn’t specific to the world of digital marketing and website design and development.

Look around you, we are constantly surrounded by service delivery – whether it’s at the hairdresser, organising your insurance renewal or just at a simple trip to the post office. 

We’ve all got tales of good and bad experiences. Today, I am going to focus on a particular trip to the post office and how my experience bore all the hallmarks of bad service and what a difference some small tweaks to delivery could have achieved.

So let me set the scene… Lockdown had lifted and I was faced with a mountain of returns, so I studiously packaged them all up, completed the returns paperwork and affixed the labels to the assortment of boxes and packages and started off to my nearest post office. 

Set expectations

After a lengthy queue outside it was my turn.  I entered the post office and was faced by two long aisles with an assistant at the end of each. Neither were engaged so I walked down the one closest and got to the desk. The assistant shook her head and told me I had to go to the other desk – cue a long walk down an aisle and back. 

There was no signage, there was no communication as I walked towards her, looking in her direction, committed to my course – just a ‘No, you have to go to the next desk’ once I’d arrived. 

They’d failed to set my expectations, or manage my progress so I’d arrived at my destination to be told I was wrong.

Post office or a web design and development project, if you have a process which needs to be followed, or you know that some element will be a blocker further down the line then communicate it clearly and as early on as possible to your customer. 

Bad news only gets worse with time. If you set expectations early then any disappointment, or possible frustration are likely to be reduced.  

Communication – the bridge between confusion and clarity 

So, I’d gotten to the correct desk, carting my mountain of returns with me and I passed it over to be scanned and processed. 

Turns out the process was that the packages had to be put in a different part of the post office, so for each return I had to walk the length of the post office and back. After the second time of walking up and down the aisle I asked whether it would be possible to carry them all once the cashier had scanned them all. I received a flat ‘no’ in response to a reasonable request.

The cashier was unable to communicate with me or even reason with me on a solution which would be the least painful for both of us. Instead, the processes were blindly stuck to and the total length of time I spent in the post office increased, preventing other customers being served, quite possibly having a knock on effect on branch profitability.

Working together with a client is crucial to your relationship. In the end both parties are after the same result. 

In the post office, I wanted to complete my business as efficiently as possible so I could get on with my day and presumably the post office wants to increase their footfall and finalise more paid services.  

The case is similar in digital projects – clients want their new websites to be built as efficiently and effectively as possible, and we want the same. The goal is achieved through clear communication, sometimes compromise, and always through collective effort.

Honesty is the best policy  

Having ferried my parcels and picked up my proof of postage I gladly escaped.  However, the visit stuck with me.  So, in this age of online review and Google maps, I decided to check this branch’s reviews. And yes, you’ve guessed it – they were atrocious:

Now, from reading the reviews I can now categorically say that the assistant was not just having a bad day. But, for this blog’s sake, let’s say it was an isolated incident and this user had come on Google Maps to leave a review. 

Well, the way he’s handled it here is a great lesson in how not to handle complaints, roadblocks or constructive criticism. 

All projects have their problems – but it’s how we handle them and move forward that matters. If, when facing an issue, we all simply cried ‘fake news!’ or descend to name calling or point scoring then nothing ever improves. Approach the downs with honesty, clear communication and good manners and then you’ll continue to build the relationship with mutual respect, strengthening it every step of the way. 

So, I left that post office feeling thoroughly dissatisfied and vowing to never visit that branch again. I’ve told everyone in my area about my experience in the hope that they follow suit.

In summary

My parcels got delivered – but my experience was unsatisfactory and I will not be visiting them again. No one wants to feel that way about their project. So, if you want to build a partnership, rather than provide a service bear in mind the following:

  • Set expectations
  • Communicate clearly and frequently 
  • Be honest 

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