Project Managers today don’t just manage projects; they are a key contributor in managing the business. So, is there a way the Project Management Office can gain the business competitive positioning and better business results? I say yes. We can do this through delivering excellence in customer service.
Aristotle said it best when he said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle ~384-322 BCE. To create a culture of service excellence, the PMO must first define for itself what excellence in customer service is. Involve the members of the Project Management Office in this activity (after all, we know from our experience managing projects that stakeholder involvement facilitates buy-in). Ask each member to provide their best customer service experience. From the cumulative experiences, collaboratively define what service excellence is for your team in your business. This definition should become the mission statement of the PMO.
Next, have the Project Management Office members recommend the values they will guide themselves by to obtain service excellence. Below are a few general principles to build on. I agree that many may seem obvious or cliché, but you will find that they work:
- Be available
- Treat your customer the way you would like to be treated
- Provide a personal and individual level of attention to each client
- Be an expert in your role, discipline or practice
- Be empowered to make decisions
- Ask, listen and learn
- Analyze risk to identify potential problems and implement corrective and preventive measures
- Communicate early and often
- Request feedback and use it to evolve service excellence
- Be humble, honest, frank and prepared
Once the Project Management Office defines and outlines values, PMO management should create a formal documented Customer Service policy and roll it out to the team. The upkeep of the Customer Service policy should be considered an iterative process; the needs of the customer and feedback from stakeholders are regularly analyzed and constant improvements are made to the program.
Review the policy with the PM team regularly, especially when there are any updates, or new hires added to the team. Perform team building exercises in support of the program, and share lessons learned at regular team meetings to foster continued support of the program. We want to ensure everyone adopts this behavior. After all, service excellence must become the new norm.
Great service can be used as an effective acquisition strategy, as well as a retention strategy for happy customers. Roll out a Customer Service Excellence program in your Project Management Office and you will find that the customer service approach will lead to growth and profitability.
Are you interested in learning how effective project management strategies can help your business excel? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Erin Marandola, Business Analyst, PMP