The person who once uttered the words “The customer is always right” was just plain wrong. In fact, customers are not only often incredibly wrong but they can also be downright stubborn and difficult.
If you build software products or custom web solutions for your clients, you probably know these truths:
Customers don’t always know what they need. They know they think they need technology for some reason, but they don’t fully understand what they need for their specific business at this particular time.
Customers can change their minds—and then change them back again. You can be at the tail-end of a project and, suddenly, the customer wants new functionality. You have to make it happen if you want to get paid, even if it means missing a deadline, exceeding a budget, or overworking your team.
Customers continue to suffer from sticker shock. Even after they have committed to a project, that sticker shock lingers. So when they make unrealistic demands or request that you change perfectly good work, they will balk at any mention of extra charges. Many will expect you to stick to your original price agreement, regardless of how much their demands add on to the cost.
Customers assume they are your only customer. As a result, they think that you should be available to them around the clock to take care of any issue—no matter how trivial—that pops up or answer any question that comes to mind.
Customers believe you have super powers. To them, your team doesn’t consist of living, breathing human beings. No, you are some robotic, magical entity that should be able to meet whatever demands they have—even the impossible ones—simply with the wave of a wand. They want what they want, and they want it now, and they expect you to deliver.
Occasionally, customers can be dead wrong. Still, project teams can be wrong, too. They can allocate too few hours on a particular project, but then wonder why the customer is upset with the slow progress. They can overspend in one area, and then grow frustrated when the money starts to run out. They can plan poorly and choose a deadline that is completely unrealistic, but then complain when customers request last minute changes.
If you are honest with yourself, you can probably think of a few ways you have come up short through the years. So, are you under- or over-serving your customers?
Of course, you should always aim to over-serve. Stellar service leads to happy clients, which leads to more business. But here is the thing: many project teams don’t fully understand if they are providing the adequate amount of service — that is, until they receive a complaint from a customer, a bad review, or some other form of negative feedback.
That’s why you need a high-level view of how you are spending your time, money, and resources so you can evaluate whether you are providing the level of service your customers expect and deserve. Here’s how that big-picture view allows you to provide outstanding customer service:
Plan more carefully
When you are trying to land new business, it’s easy to overpromise. A thorough plan that takes into account everything, including employees’ workloads and other current projects, allows you to present customers with a more realistic deadline. That ultimately ensures that you aren’t rushing at the last minute—perhaps producing low-quality work—to meet some arbitrary deadline.
Tempo Books for JIRA enables teams working in professional services and building custom solutions for customers to lay out that framework so that you improve your chances of coming in under budget and on time — directly within JIRA. More important, however, is that the solution allows you to monitor your team’s progress so that you know you are doing your best to meet customers’ expectations.
Know how time is actually being spent
Are you certain your team is putting in all the hours for which you are billing? Or maybe they are logging in way more hours than you originally planned? Tempo Timesheets integrates with Tempo Books and tells you precisely how much time employees are spending on any one project. On a broader view, you can quickly pinpoint areas where employees are spending too much or not enough time.
Make better business decisions
You can see which projects are causing you to lose money and which stand to generate the most revenue. That allows you to quote projects more effectively, set more realistic deadlines and focus employees’ efforts on projects that stand to generate the most money.
Gain a better view of “worked” hours versus “billed” hours
With the big-picture view that Tempo Books offers, for example, you can keep track of the amounts you’re billing and employees’ work that is essentially non billable. In addition, you can monitor the entire project and how your team members are performing on different categories. You can even find information of each member’s efforts on a given project. That allows you to pinpoint areas of poor service, and train and coach employees to make improvements.
Create more transparency with clients
Using Tempo’s special reporting features, you can actually open the books to your customers. In real-time you can show customers exactly where their money is going, how much time your team is devoting to their project, and where the budget stands. That can serve as a big reality check for customers who expect the moon but aren’t open to budging on their time-frame or budget.
Gaining a better, holistic understanding of how you budget your teams and projects for your customer accounts can help you better serve your clients—even the ones that aren’t always right.