Posts Tagged With: customer satisfaction

Lessons in customer service from my Xmas getaway

My son and I just enjoyed a few days of sunshine, good food and great customer service at a Caribbean resort. Our journey home made for a jarring return to reality thanks to the more than fifty degree drop in outside temperature but also due to the poor customer service provided by the airline.

For my last post of 2017, I thought I’d share one bouquet and two brickbats in the hopes of encouraging more of the former and a lot less of the latter in 2018.

Our resort is one which we’ve visited once before a year and a half back. A few months before our trip, I’d dropped a note to the front office manager letting her know that we were coming back and providing her with a few requests. I was not expecting that we’d be treated any different than any other guest given that we’d spent less than a week during our last stay. Not only did they upgrade us to a higher tier room, they also left a fruit plate, a cheese plate and a decent bottle of rum in our room along with inviting us to a repeat guests cocktail reception midway through our stay. Sure, the cost of these bonuses is a fraction of what we spent for our stay, but this thoughtfulness did a great job of cementing my loyalty.

Delighters, like recognition, don’t need to be big.

The inbound flight for our journey home was delayed a half hour due to bad weather in the Greater Toronto Area. The ground and flight crew made fast work of getting our plane ready for the return flight and we departed with just a slight schedule variance on the scheduled departure time. However, once we landed, we spent an hour on the runway waiting for a delayed plane from a different airline to free up our gate. Through this process, the flight crew did a good job of providing us with updates.

Unfortunately, things went downhill from there.

Once our gate was available, we spent an additional forty-five minutes waiting for ground crew from the third-party provider contracted by our airline to provide these services. Few updates were provided by the flight crew and they took every opportunity to pass the buck for the issue to their service provider.

When a customer buys the sausage, they rarely care to know how that sausage was made, just that it tastes good and meets quality requirements!

Once we had de-planed and made our way through immigration to the luggage carousels, things didn’t improve. We waited an hour for bags to start showing up but none came. A few of us made our way to the luggage enquiries desk and requested an update from the airline’s agent there. Upon our request she called her duty manager who tried to get a hold of baggage services (again contracted by the airline) without success. Once again, the airline’s agent tried to defer ownership of the issue, first to her duty manager and then to the third party service provider. Repeated requests to have her duty manager (who was at the airport – somewhere) to come down were ignored.

More than three hours after we landed our bags finally arrived.

Issues will occur but how your company handles them when they do is what your customers will remember. Training staff to avoid the blame game and ensuring that someone empowered to make decisions shows up in person can turn a public relations nightmare into a minor blip.

 

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Categories: Project Management | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Do you deliver dazzling demos?

boringdemosDemos, or showcases as they are sometimes called, are a critical ceremony when they are run effectively as they address multiple project delivery objectives in a single event including:

  • Validating that what the team has completed to date is valuable from the perspective of their customer and other key stakeholders
  • Helping the team and stakeholders change or evolve their understanding of the desired solution
  • Getting signoff on completed work items in those organizations where such signoff is a required prerequisite for implementing change
  • Facilitating transparent progress reporting as stakeholders see what was committed by the team and what was completed
  • Providing team members with regular feedback and recognition for their hard work which increases levels of engagement and job satisfaction

But demos are just like any other project delivery practice in that their misuse could result in a worse outcome than if they had been skipped entirely. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help increase the value your team gets out of demos.

  • DO send meeting invitations well in advance and if you are following a standard sprint or iteration cadence (e.g. two or three weeks) then schedule a set of recurring invitations
  • DON’T book demos on Friday afternoons to avoid having stakeholders who are absent in body or mind
  • DO share the wealth by having everyone on the team take a turn to present a demo
  • DON’T use the demo as your soapbox for complaining about the team, blockers or what could or should have been done different
  • DO provide objective context when sharing sprint or iteration outcomes (e.g. committed vs. completed)
  • DON’T present a demo without having tested what you are going to show beforehand
  • DO invite both your customer representatives and relevant control partners to your demos
  • DON’T overwhelm your stakeholders with content
  • DO record the presentations either in advance or (if you feel lucky!) during the demo itself for the benefit of any stakeholders who were unable to attend
  • DON’T take negative feedback personally

While this article is primarily aimed at teams who are using an agile delivery approach, it is equally applicable to traditional projects. Dazzling demos can help sustain the attention and support from your customer and will keep team members focused on value delivery.

 

 

Categories: Agile, Project Management | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

How transparent are you?

too-much-transparencyPMI’s Code of Ethics clearly illustrates the value placed on transparency in the project management profession – both the Honest and Fairness sections of the Code contain standards which echo the importance of this attribute. This includes transparency in decision-making as well as being truthful, accurate and timely in our communications.

But just how transparent are we really on a day-to-day basis when we are managing our projects?

Do we share what we are doing to respond or resolve each and every risk and issue (no matter the criticality) with key stakeholders?

Do we automatically set our schedule or cost health status to red the moment we exceed approved baselines, no matter how slight that variance?

Do we bring each and every requirements change to our sponsor as change requests?

Do we document each and every step taken along the path to making a critical decision?

Of course not.

Too much transparency can undermine credibility in a project manager as quickly as incompetence does. It also encourages sponsors and other stakeholders to engage in micromanagement.

I’m not advocating deceit. If your project is genuinely in harm’s way, it is your responsibility to make sure this information gets shared with the right stakeholders in an objective, timely fashion. If you know that a certain path of action will benefit your company but not your customer, you should be open about that.

But never forget that a large part of project management is stakeholder expectation management. Our stakeholders are expecting us to be trustworthy and competent which means that while we need to be transparent we also are expected to use our judgment.

Judgment is a key difference between someone who is managing a project and someone who is merely reporting on its status. Otherwise, most project management information systems would have the triggers for health status indicators or alarm notifications hardcoded whereas most of the time, these features are fitted with manual overrides. The designers of these systems understood that no matter how advanced are the rules which you’ve codified for evaluating project health, you can’t remove the human judgment element from the equation.

Yelling “Fire!” in a packed theatre might be a lesser offence than not having working smoke detectors in a similar venue, but they are both criminal acts.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Project Management | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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