Monday, November 22, 2010

Four Proactive Communication Tools That Work

Here are four of the best communication tools PSMJ recommends to help foster a great experience for your clients. Each technique is geared towards minimum effort and maximum return.

1. Client status call. For your top clients, schedule a twenty minute call each week at the same time of the day and same day of the week. Have them put it on their calendar. And, make the call like clockwork. For example, it could be Monday at 2:00 p.m. or Friday at 10:00 a.m. - never miss it. Send out a quick e-mail reminder before the meeting with a couple of agenda items. Most of the time, your client will reply back with a couple of items they want to cover. This way, a week never passes before you have covered the hot topics of the week with your clients.

2. Client sponsor. For any substantial size project, a “client sponsor” should be assigned to the project. This is usually a person at least one level above the PM. In many cases, it will be a principal or owner. It is their responsibility to actively pursue feedback from the client throughout the course of the project. The client sponsor gathers information from the client on how well the firm and the assigned PM are meeting their needs and what improvements need to be made. The PM and client sponsor should review the feedback together after each contact.

3. Action item tracking. After every call with a client and every meeting, the PM should record in one place a compilation of all the action items resulting from the encounters. Along with each action item, the PM should indicate who is responsible for each action and when the item will be completed (a "by and by"). One indicator that a team is working effectively on a project is that action items are being closed out in a timely fashion. Measure how your team is doing.

4. Client touches. Any contact with the client is referred to as a client “touch.” PSMJ is a big believer in the “two-minute” touch. Going to a ball game with your client is a great client touch, but seldom will they carve out that amount of time for you. Instead, try a few of these quick touches: send a hand written note to your client or a PDF of a technical article that is in their area of interest. Invite them to the next “lunch-and-learn” that you hold at your office.Send a link to an on-line article that was valuable to you. Send them a checklist or template that you think might help them in their work.

These four techniques work, so put them to work for you and become a much improved communicator starting today. To learn more tips and techniques you can use to become a better and more successful project manager, check out PSMJ’s Ultimate Project Management Manual.

PSMJ’s Ultimate Project Management Manual
can instantly and dramatically improve your ability to manage projects for quality, speed, and profitability. Click here to order, e-mail, or call PSMJ customer service at (800) 537-7765.

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