PM and the Spirit of Giving: An Extra Mile for the Customer

PM and the Spirit of Giving:  An Extra Mile for the Customer
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As a project manager, you are probably in reasonably good touch with your customer’s business needs.  The reality, though, is that some of these business needs will shift…and there are other needs you need to consider also.  Customers are people too…and in fact are usually teams of people. Each person on the customer team has their own unique situation – personality, personal as well as business drivers, business relationships, and personal and professional challenges.  The spirit of giving at this time of year provides you, the project manager, with a unique opportunity to tune in to these things and take some positive action.

This is the second of a series of four articles on “PM and the Spirit of Giving”, where we explore just a few of the opportunities a project manager has to express the spirit of giving in his/her professional life.  This article, Part 2 in the series, “An Extra Mile for the Customer,” looks at ways that you, as a project manager, can do a little extra something to build a stronger professional relationship with your customer. Part 1, “Focused Attention to a Team Member”, looks at opportunities to take advantage of the holiday spirit to try and build a better relationship with a team member.  Part 3, “Special Appreciation for a Vendor,” raises the idea of expressing the holiday spirit with an often underappreciated supplier or service provider. Finally, Part 4, “Someone Specific in Your Network”, encourages you to take a look outside your current job at your professional network for a special way to express the spirit of giving.  

It deserves repeating:  customers are people…and in fact are usually teams of people.  It is extremely helpful to tune in to this truth. Consider stretching your mind, think about, and better understand the following:

  • Business needs:  You may think you understand the business drivers for your project…but consider that things are changing before your eyes.  In fact, as your project progresses, everyone is learning more seeing some things more clearly, and noticing some things that may be revealing.  In addition, external factors may be changing. It’s an act of giving to identify and share insights with your customers as you move along on your project.
  • Personal drivers:  Since your customer team is made up of people, each has their own personal drivers.  Why are they there? What makes them get up in the morning? What outcome do they personally want to see…that means the most to them?
  • Business relationships:  Customers have business relationships outside the immediate project.  Get to know them…and be an ally. As a project manager, you are part of their network now!  Try and think outside the box of the immediate relationships involved in the project alone.
  • Career path:  As each human being has certain ambitions, so will be the case for the customer team members you are serving.  If you can tune in to where people want to go with their careers, and what they value, you can give a great gift to someone in an unexpected way.
  • Personal challenges:  Your customers have personal lives too.  A little sensitivity to that goes a long way.  Even showing an interest in a customer’s personal life, however small, can go a long way…but remember that it’s all about giving.

Have you thought carefully about the customer team as people?  What can you ‘give’ to them at this special time of year?

This Post is Part of the Series: PM and the Spirit of Giving

These articles explore potential difficult situations with a team member, and ways that you can tap into the holiday spirit to smooth things over.

  1. Focused Attention to a Team Member
  2. An Extra Mile for the Customer
  3. Special Appreciation for a Vendor
  4. Someone Special in Your Network