How to Be a Great Client

www.viget.com viget.com3 years ago in #Business Love49

One of our focuses at Viget is to always be good consultants—even when it means pushing boundaries, challenging our clients to think critically about how they talk about themselves, or breaking the status quo with cutting-edge design and technology. We always have a common goal with our clients: to make the best end product possible. We want to get there with a shared understanding, process, and enthusiasm about the work. This context is always helpful to lay out at the beginning of any new engagement. But it also lets our clients know they’re in this with us—and that there are certain expectations that come with being a client. With this article, organizations on the receiving end of work like ours can learn concrete ways to help keep a project moving forward. Appoint a client-side Project Manager. While consultants are tasked with handling the work, there will certainly be times when we’ll need to get feedback on a deliverable, get a download of some organizational structure or industry, learn about a client’s product, and more. Likewise, we always like to review budget, timeline, and tasks to keep our clients abreast of what’s happening on their project at any given time. All this means we need streamlined communication. It’s most efficient to channel everything through one person on the client side. We recommend up to eight hours per week over the course of the project—sometimes it can be more, and sometimes less. This works best when that time is set aside as an actual commitment—it gets everyone in a regular and predictable cadence and will prevent your staff from experiencing project burnout. Deliver batched feedback. The best client contacts are skilled wranglers of batched feedback. We’ve experienced both sides of this coin—a single collated list from one person, and a smattering of thoughts collected from executives and other departments that often contradict one another, copied and pasted into multiple emails. The former is much more productive. Then we don’t have to spend a client’s budget combing through a list of line items that don’t add up, make sense, or convey different messages, and then have the back and forth needed to resolve them. If there’s one person we’re communicating with, they’ll also have a good idea of the decisions we’ve made along the way, and why we’ve made them. That will help them filter out irrelevant requests or spark internal discussions that can be beneficial. Along these lines, it’s also very helpful when a client provides feedback that is: Thoughtful Specific Actionable Rationalized Timely Candid Goal-oriented Supported with alternatives Vetted This is a lot to ask for, but the closer we all can adhere to this model, the more efficiently the project can move without sacrificing quality. Get your stakeholders involved in key decisions. More often than not, the executives who approved the budget or key decision makers for the company will need to weigh in. It’s crucial to identify these people early on, which is something we can do collaboratively, and get them in the room during strategic milestones. This mostly falls under a client’s domain, but we are eager to support those conversations. We can assist by sending out an early agenda, conveying the importance of the subject matter, and impressing upon stakeholders how ignoring big milestone decisions throughout the project can have implications for budget and timeline down the road. The repercussions of not getting the right stakeholders involved are significant. It’s important to take early steps to avoid it. Internally, agencies should work to figure out those milestone dates. And on the client side, do whatever you can…

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