This is Episode 3 of my video program called “Can We Talk About Your WordPress Projects?” devoted to all things Project Management related to WordPress. In the last episode we talked all about why an Acceptance Management Plan is important for your agency or individual practice.
Today’s episode is all about Client Management and what that means.
Client Management Means Client Education
When seeking to win the project, it’s probably appropriate to have a provider/customer type relationship. But when the project starts, it’s important to make efforts to shift that to a “we’re all in this together” type relationship – among colleagues. Yes, the client has the final say-so, but getting out of the “worker-bee” mentality and working with the client as experienced professionals is the basis of any good Client Management Plan.
The best thing you can do, to make the client feel like a project team member, is to educate them about the overall process of developing a website. Tell them what’s involved and make sure they know when and how their involvement will be needed.
Many folks seeking website services have no idea what is involved and often expect they will just hand the project off to you and you will come back with a fully completed website. And we sometimes expect clients to know how the process will work, without actually explaining it to them.
It’s OK to Shop for the Right Clients
The first thing your Client Management Plan should spell out is, the kind of clients with whom you are willing to work. Truth = you don’t have to work with difficult clients. Spell out in your plan, strictly for internal purposes, the characteristics of your ideal customer. It’s also helpful to detail the kind of client with whom you are NOT willing to work. And then, as the client is shopping for a provider, you should ALSO be determining if it is a good fit for YOU.
It’s also a really good idea to work in an exit plan for those occasions where they seemed like the ideal customer at first but have proved otherwise. I use a 2-Step proposal process where either the client or I have the option to cancel after the deep dive discovery (Phase 1).
How Will You Manage Client Activities?
Try to think of everything that could go wrong with client activities and put processes or policies in place to manage that. What happens when the client misses dates? What happens when the content is delivered in the wrong format? What happens when the client refuses to approve something that clearly meets the previously agreed-upon criteria?
In this case, it’s a matter of applying the old adage – “plan for the worst and expect the best.”
One thing I often do, to increase the likelihood of clients adhering to the schedule, is to offer incentives. Sometimes it’s a discount on the final project price. Sometimes its extra services. It most often depends on what I have sensed motivates the client most. It doesn’t matter what the incentive is, it just needs to be something your client really wants or needs.
Where and How Do You Communicate Your Client Management Plan?
While much of what is in your company Client Management Plan is for internal use only, incentives for compliance and consequences for non-compliance should be communicated during the proposal phase. Don’t be afraid to spell these things out in your proposal or contract and review them with the client up front.
Most clients understand business and will not be put off by this, especially if you take the time to educate them on the process and how you have THEIR ultimate best interest in mind.
To Learn More:
Free Training available from the home page.
The WordPress Project Manager’s Academy – a free membership site coming soon – go here to sign up to stay informed of when it is released.