One of the most honest relationships you can have in business is one that benefits both you and your partners. Relationships that are based around mutual benefit are solidified by mutual trust and respect. As a project manager, you want customers to see you as the person with the knowledge, skills, and reputation to complete successful projects. In turn, the customers you work with want someone they can depend on to deliver results aligned with their needs.
By harnessing the power of collaboration you can progress towards common goals much faster. How do you accomplish this? Through a few simple steps:
Customer Support and Problem Solving
Providing excellent customer support is a fundamental way to create positive collaboration. Resolving any problems through good communication will allow customers to feel more secure and satisfied upon closing an issue. Utilizing feedback to prevent future problems is a great way to provide additional support. For example: a business buys a complicated bookshelf to assemble and sell. Instructions offer little clarity, and since the bookshelf doesn’t cost much it doesn’t merit the price of sending out a field engineer. Instead of encountering the same problem over and over again, receiving feedback from customers that have had similar issues will allow you to provide more clarity in the very beginning. By resolving problems early, you’re improving customer experience with your product.
Co-Design with Other Businesses
Choosing to co-design will help you to engage all parties in the process of understanding exactly what results are needed. This will provide you with the information you need in understanding what customers really want in a product, and change the design accordingly. More and more businesses have begun collaborating with suppliers and partners to co-design new features, products, and business models. These partners can add unique input to help hone in on what better fits your customer’s needs. Sharing project plans and designs with these businesses will help troubleshoot as issues arise and keep new innovation moving forward.
Create an Elite Customer Group
Creating a special group for your most important customers will instill feelings of value and priority. Invite representatives of your largest buyers into the conversation and ask them for feedback on your products. Emphasize how vital their input is to your success. Invite these customers to an exclusive online team where they can openly discuss ideas with your company directly.
Employ a Focus Group
Select a number of customers to evaluate your product or service through a focus group. For a small investment you will receive valuable information from actual users. Utilize their feedback to influence the future refining of your product. The focus group doesn’t necessarily need to be composed of your most elite customers, as you will want representatives from a variety of demographics within your market. Using a focus group will also show how your company appreciates having a close relationship with customers, and that you have a high priority in creating products that are invaluable to them.
Brainstorm through a Common Problem
Bring together a variety of different minds to brainstorm working through a common problem. This type of brainstorming meeting shouldn’t just be made up of executives, but also include sales, marketing, assistants, and customer service representatives. Create an open social atmosphere and allow for a judgement-free process. There are no bad ideas! All solutions suggested can be great jumping-off points.
Project collaboration will not only help your company in creating the best possible products for your customers, but also create a positive impact on communication with your business partners. Collaboration ensures continuous momentum of developing new projects without diminishing quality, and also creates transparency between you and your customers. It’s a win-win for all!
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