Having the Shoe (or Pump) on the Other Foot

As a marketing type, I never get involved with the delivery of our solutions.  The closest I get is meeting with customers after the solution is complete to learn about how their work lives have changed.

Recently however, we re-vamped our website (www.mariner-usa.com) and the experience gave me new insight. The proverbial shoe was indeed on the other foot.  I now have a better understanding of what customers expect of their business partners and more specifically, of my colleagues. We all want projects that are successful and not so stressful, right? So here’s my short list of expectations, wearing my customer shoes:

  • Communicate. Constantly.  Make sure each interaction is informative and relevant to the project.
  • Update. Incessantly. Establish a cadence on resource reporting that includes how long have it’s taken to reach this point, how many days until delivery, what’s left in the budget, and most importantly,  how the two are tracking.
  • Be forthright.  If we’re heading for a train wreck or even a short detour, tell me nanoseconds after you have figured that out.  If you’re not sure what the corrective action should be, just say so. We can work it out together.
  • Anticipate. Whether we make mid-course directions, or find ourselves at a decision point we didn’t anticipate, I want to know as much as you do. Tell me what will happen if we go with option a, b or c, and tell me how my life will be different for each option.
  • Speak English. Devour The Cluetrain Manifesto and put it into practice. I’m not a techie and never will be (in fact, I sometimes feel like the village idiot around here).  Explain things like I’m only slightly more tech savvy than your grandmother but as driven as Donald Trump.
  • Keep an audit trail and make it easy to find. Everyone is busy, managing several priorities at once. We can’t remember every decision, so if I forget, please have a place where I can go and retrace our steps.

It’s good to walk in someone else’s shoes.  It can be cramped and uncomfortable at times, but when you take them off, you’re ready to stretch and learn from the experience.

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