We spend some portion of our time every day as customers, but we never seem to remember the customers we serve when we run our projects.
As PM’s we focus on delivering the project and that becomes our sole objective. From our customers’ viewpoint, delivering the project is probably not their sole objective. The benefits they gain from the project or another motive altogether may their aim. And that’s where we may run into problems.
We take this perspective into meetings along with whatever baggage we are lugging around that day. And that is the last thing we should be doing. According to Jeb Blount, author of People Love You, “..the most successful account managers rely on a firm set of principles and values that guide them in customer relationships much as tracks guide a train.”
The principles he writes about in People Love You provide useful guidelines to follow, but if you’re still carrying your bagging into each interaction then you’ll fail to hold to the principles he describes. Blout says that we need to shift our focus from being project-focused to being customer-focused in four ways:
1. Assume positive intent
Choose to believe that the customer thought she was doing the right thing or has a reason that is in their best interests behind everything they are doing.
2. Leave your own wants and needs behind to focus on the customers needs. A month or so ago, I wrote about shifting your ‘sliders’ or key performance indicators to address your stakeholders concerns. Blount believes we need to be an extension of the customer.
3. Shift the energy from you and your desires to focus on what is important to the customer
4. Flex Your Style – Adjust your approach and interpersonal behaviors for each individual so they are more comfortable working with you.