Our Client: Master Or Partner? Transparency For Remote Teams.
I was asked to appear at the 2nd meeting of Aula Polska Poznań. The topic was: “Our client, our master: How to satisfy the client and not go crazy”.
I got very excited and agreed almost immediately to the talk, but there was a second thought: this was not the way I feel it; this was not the way we do it at Netguru.
At the end of November, I was asked to appear at the second meeting of Aula Polska Poznań. The topic was: “Our client, our master: How to satisfy the client and not go crazy”. I got very excited and agreed almost immediately to the talk, but there was a second thought: this was not the way I feel it; this was not the way we do it at Netguru.
As building a partnership with our clients is the basis for us, the topic had to be changed.
“Our client, our partner. How to maintain a healthy relationships with clients”. That was it!—the essence of our approach. I shared it with the audience of Aula Polska.
By healthy relationship I mean specifically a partnership. The type of relation where both sides are equally responsible for the result of their cooperation. It’s the situation when you trust each other, feel comfortable sharing ideas and being openly creative. Together you deal with failures and celebrate any kind of success. In a partnership there is no place for overwhelming the other, or providing lack of information or meaningless criticism. A partnership is the most efficient way for two entities to cooperate.
Step One - Transparency
For all of our clients we are working remotely. They can’t see us face to face, day to day. However they are able to communicate with us and track progress of our work as if we were there. In our workflow the client is part of the project team. No matter what happens (big successes or small failures) everyone should be on the same page.
We’ve already described on our blog how we build transparency in terms of: communication, time tracking, working remotely and dealing with failure. I truly recommend taking a closer look at those articles and to know how we create efficient partner cooperation.
Step Two - Trust
Why do we put so much effort to transparency? Because we want to build trust. Trust means that not only is our client 100% aware of what we do, but that they also know we are doing our work and will deliver the product. Trust means that we will do this in the best quality as possible, that we know who we are, what we do and we have the same goal as the client.Transparency is the way to make your client feel that they are on top of things and openly part of the process itself.
Step Three - Assertiveness
There are two ways to consider assertiveness. On one hand, if you have your client’s trust you can be assertive, as your ideas are much more appreciated. On the other, when you are assertive you can build your client’s trust in you as a professional. In order to achieve this - you have to be, believe and act like one.
Let’s take a look at an example of a communication win:
Q: Would it be possible to grant root access for John?
BTL: (below the line) Can you trust us? We’ll be good.
I: We recommend that John has direct root access. This is important because…
BTL: We know what we are doing.
In most cases telling is more efficient than asking. If you know that the access is necessary, it brings value for the work of your team (i.e. for the project). By including good reasons for an assertion, you can simply tell someone what to do instead of requesting it. That’s how you get what you need and show your professional approach at the same time.
Confidence is a clue to assertiveness. Remember - you are the experienced guy or gal, who has a firm approach in many of your projects after much experience, and your client should feel that.
Step Four - Communication
Here are few communication tips included in my presentation:
These are real life examples from our Wiki, which might be helpful to avoid some common mistakes. We described situations when your words can be read in much different way you intended. Please feel free to go through with it and share your thoughts.
Ultimately, the key to maintaining a healthy relationship with clients is the same as a partnership - trust, connection, and confidence. Be the convincing partner, open to your client, yet knowing all the right ways to direct the partnership. You want your partner to be in good hands, so have no caution when it comes to building the right support and relationship tools between you and them.