Maria Bondarenko - Managing Customer Impressions (talk from SPM Conference)

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Last November, the Software Project Managment Conference ( spmconf.ru ) was held in Minsk , we publish the listing of the report by Maria Bondarenko , Director of Generation P Consulting, on the topic “Managing Customers' Impressions”.

The presentation of the report can be viewed on the report page .





Good day again, everyone, glad to see you on my report. The report is called the management of impressions and today we will learn how this business can be managed, and in general, why they are needed in the life of a manager. We will talk about three things today:
  • About our projects that we carry out;
  • About customers, and
  • About managers

But most importantly, we will talk about the impressions that arise in the process of these interactions.



Why I decided to tell this topic. In fact, this story is quite interesting, about a month ago I was asked to participate in the SPM conference, at this moment I was on the side of one of our clients and on the same day the client said one wonderful phrase that you now see on the screen:

Documents, plans, schedules - everything is great, but the most important thing is the impression you made on us, so we believe that the project will be successful.




It was just our launch of a new project. Together with our business analyst, we communicated with this client quite closely for several days. Accordingly, I wanted to develop this topic and share with you "impressions of impressions."

I will tell you a little about myself: my name is Maria Bondarenko , I work for Generation P Consulting , this is a grocery company, and we are developing software for the tourism industry. This is our main specificity. Our top brand is called GP-Solutions, if there is someone from Russia here, you may have seen us somewhere under this signboard. At the same time I am running a project for managers and analysts, the project is called pmba.by. If you are interested, go in, read.



All my fabrications are connected with quite a long experience in IT, I have been in IT for more than 10 years. And I communicate with clients a lot, almost all of my work is related to communication with clients, project management, teams, etc.

So, let's discuss the role of impressions in the work of a manager. But first, let's ask the question: why does the manager do projects at all? For what? What do you think? (long pause) What is the project manager’s goal? Achieving company goals? Yes? Or maybe his task is just to perplex people and let him do what is being done? That's great - to generate profits.



This is naturally not the only goal of a manager, but nevertheless, for a company to be successful, a company must have money. And in order to have money, it is necessary that projects be carried out and that these projects bring profit to the company. Well, let's think further: when will the company have a profit? Yes, when a successful project, when the client is satisfied and when this client either continues to order further iterations of the project that the manager started or when this satisfied client recommends this company to other colleagues and acquaintances, these people come and order new projects. The chain is basically this. The manager should influence customer satisfaction. Now let's think from the point of view of the client - the client, coming to our company wants to get a successful implementation of their project. But in case if a customer buys a product - everything is clear and understandable here - the customer can touch it, feel it, see what it will eventually receive. We will not consider this area of ​​IT today. Today we are talking about the service and projects that are performed on the customer’s order. In this case, how can the client be sure that his project will be successfully completed? The client has certain things, certain indicators, which, by the way, spoke well today on the first report - these are things that are professionalism, reliability of the company and legitimacy of the company, In this case, how can the client be sure that his project will be successfully completed? The client has certain things, certain indicators, which, by the way, spoke well today on the first report - these are things that are professionalism, reliability of the company and legitimacy of the company, In this case, how can the client be sure that his project will be successfully completed? The client has certain things, certain indicators, which, by the way, spoke well today on the first report - these are things that are professionalism, reliability of the company and legitimacy of the company,



those. what the company has not yet shown, but what sales managers have already told quite well, certain certificates have been provided, i.e. the client, on the basis of the data that he was told, decides whether or not to cooperate with him in your company. But at the same time, as you can see on the slide, questions are posed - the client is not yet sure, i.e. he made a choice, but in fact he is still in a state of easy concern, and how does he develop relations with this company? And is it really all that that marketers described to him, the sellers - will it later be justified? What happens next? Then the first step actually takes place - the initialization of the project and at this moment the client introduces us to whom? Usually with a manager. The team usually gets to the project a little later. And at the time of acquaintance with the manager, in fact, from this point on, the impressions of the client about the company begin to take shape. Those. the client seems to be working with one person, but the client relays all the information he receives from the manager on his impressions about the company. And let's try to present two situations here.

Situation first. The initiation of the project begins and for some reason the relationship with the manager and the client does not add up. The manager missed, say, a deadline for submitting a report. Those. agreed client what you say after the meeting came to me, please, then what we agreed. And the manager delayed, even if not for long - even for a day ... But the client already had a negative impression.
Suppose in the result that the manager sent there are some errors that the client noticed. Again, there is a negative, is it then easy for such a manager to explain that, for objective reasons, there is a delay on the project or that some kind of force majeure has occurred? What do you think? It will already be difficult. Because already, in principle, reputation is stale. And the whole project will take place under the scrutiny of the client. The client will be quite nervous about everything, find fault with everything, demand detailed checks of everything that is happening and not the fact that the project will continue even further.

Or let's consider the second situation.. Again, the project starts. Client meet with the manager. And the manager from the first days admires the client. For example, they agreed on something, and the manager did even faster than they agreed. The manager provides the fantastically necessary information for the client, and the client thought, and the manager has already picked it all up and done it. In this case, even if some kind of force majeure arises on the project, or if there are some nuances, then it will be an order of magnitude easier for such a manager to explain that this is an objective situation. Those. even if objectively the project can move “not very”, nevertheless the client can be happy with its implementation.

But in general, everything is just about the impressions and about the contact that exists between the client and the manager. So by what means is it formed? The interaction between the manager and the client begins and some facts begin to arise: 1, 2, 3 ... like some foundation blocks that the manager builds in the relationship with the client. And then on the basis of these facto then build a pyramid. The more positive customer experiences about the facts that occur, the better the foundation of this pyramid. Especially steady and successful projects that makes the manager.



And accordingly, on the basis of these facts. Just the client makes the first decision about professionalism, efficiency and reliability, first of all, the manager and his automatic understanding of these same qualities are relayed to the whole company. And thus, the client can move from a situation of fear to a situation of calm. If he sees a professional in the manager, if he sees a person in the manager who is impressive.

Thus, the power of impressions gives us the following chain of transformations: first, the client has some expectations, then impressions occur. Based on the impressions, personal contact with the client is made. And this is quite an important factor in project management, although they are not included in the classic project management literature. Further, on the basis of emotional contact, trust arises between the manager and the client and the actual presence of this trust leads to success on the project.

Well, now we abstract a little from the topic of managers and clients and move on to the topic of impressions. Let's close our eyes for a moment and try to imagine what impressed you most personally in this life? And what exactly contributed to these impressions? Let's just have the most vivid impressions ... Mountains, aha excellent! And what impressed in the mountains? Nature is probably some kind of unusual thing, which we usually do not have here, but here you look - wow ... Scale, yes. Pride in yourself while achieving some goals. Still? Exceeding expectations - yes, super! Well, fine, well, they probably didn’t wake up to the end, but I see that everyone has already presented something to himself and was already a little impressed with the impressions that he was impressed. I actually remember from my childhood, when I was 12 years old, I went to Germany, At that time, the Soviet Union was still in full, and there was no such thing in Germany, and for the first time I saw a hypermarket in life - a huge, huge store, where everything was just like that, consultants at every corner were, well, it was Compared with our shovel shops - of course, it was just a shock. Well, or you can also compare the Soviet-style hotels, too, probably, someone stopped and remembers western 4-5 star hotels. Where is everything with a needle and friendly staff, who do not need to be taken in, but who, in principle, stands and is ready to help. Ask for something if you do not know where and what is located and they will immediately give you a map. Those. this one is the maximum customer focus. consultants at every corner were, well, this is in comparison with our shovel shops - of course, it was just a shock. Well, or you can also compare the Soviet-style hotels, too, probably, someone stopped and remembers western 4-5 star hotels. Where is everything with a needle and friendly staff, who do not need to be taken in, but who, in principle, stands and is ready to help. Ask for something if you do not know where and what is located and they will immediately give you a map. Those. this one is the maximum customer focus. consultants at every corner were, well, this is in comparison with our shovel shops - of course, it was just a shock. Well, or you can also compare the Soviet-style hotels, too, probably, someone stopped and remembers western 4-5 star hotels. Where is everything with a needle and friendly staff, who do not need to be taken in, but who, in principle, stands and is ready to help. Ask for something if you do not know where and what is located and they will immediately give you a map. Those. this one is the maximum customer focus. Ask for something if you do not know where and what is located and they will immediately give you a map. Those. this one is the maximum customer focus. Ask for something if you do not know where and what is located and they will immediately give you a map. Those. this one is the maximum customer focus.



Let's turn to history - once upon a time, when computers were still, when computers were still large, and people were small - the image of an IT person was this or someone very clever (a scientist, something mysterious) or an IT person wearing slippers and there is something labing on the computer. But the situation is now changing, how do you think at the expense of what? Customer focus ... design ... Apple has achieved a lot through impressions - these are the shows, the expectation of new products, the demonstration of new gadgets. Those impressions that they form in many ways and became the reason for the success of Apple. The technical characteristics of the equipment may be worse than some brands, it is possible to argue with this, but it is impossible to argue with anything, because they have worked on their impressions very well. Do you agree?

In general, in today's world, if you produce products, it depends on your impressions - how your products will be received, how much you will be well and successfully represented on the market. If you are engaged in service, i.e. Are you doing custom development projects? Again, impressions are very important, because this is the factor that determines whether you will have a job tomorrow or not? People strive for impressions, if they have a choice to work with those who impress them or with mediocre contractors, then, of course, the choice will be made in favor of the tech who is impressive.

I tried to derive some formula of impressions. Actually, due to what they are formed.
The basis of the formation of impressions is the following tablet, which is a 2x2 matrix. Axis completed-not executed and axis expected-not expected



For example, the client agreed that the project would be done in a week, and we managed to make it in one day - it creates strong impressions, the client will say - “Wow! You are super professionals, you are great. ” If you have agreed for a week and have done it in a week, then the client also falls into the waiting area and the client will be satisfied, imagine this situation too, for example, you yourself hand over the car to the service station and you are told that you will be doing it for two weeks, you understand that you will have to wait for it, but you are aware of the task. But if suddenly they call you in two days and say that we have tried and done it faster, you will 100% go to this service station next time, because they impressed you.

A question from the audience - but it’s possible that we did something that was not expected and the client is not happy about it.
Answer:The main thing is not to make it worse. Be sure to try to do what the client did not expect, but what will make the situation better for the client.

A question from the audience - will it not complicate the task with what the client was promised to do in 10 days, but they did it in 8 days and he will wait for 8 days next time, what is really done in 10.

Answer: Good question. Here it is really very important to find the lines between the norm and the power of impressions. If you did something faster - you need to explain why it happened. We changed priorities and pushed another project, understanding how important this is to you. But in no case do not form the expectation that next time it will also be 8 days. Because next time it will be difficult to get even into the second segment of the table (satisfaction).

I propose to look at such a book - “The Economy of Impressions” by Joseph Pine and James Gilmore .



The author cites one very interesting theory, according to which he reduces everything to the fact that now everything comes down from the economy of services and goods to the economy of impressions. There used to be a raw materials economy - they produced various raw materials and people exchanged these raw materials with each other. And then everyone, based on this raw material, baked what he needed. Further, the world moved from a raw material economy to the economy of goods. We began to sell finished products in stores. Next - the economy of services - when the goods are wrapped in a service (except for selling a cake - baking to order), where an individual approach to the client is carried out. The next step is when you instead order cakes for corporate and the like. go to a special agency and order impressions and they already make for you all the necessary attributes of the holiday.

What I wanted to tell today is also the fact that four areas stand out in impressions - aesthetic, entertainment, learning and involvement. And the more of these areas are affected by your impressions - the stronger the impressions your customers will have.



Thus, the formula of impressions I got is the following:



Impressions are a ratio of events that occur in relation to the client's expectations and this is enhanced by the effects of including an aesthetic, entertaining, instructive and engaging moment in your work.

Further from this formula, I propose to consider several practical tips that can help the work of the manager, I am not talking about the whole team, I’m talking exclusively about the role of the manager in this story. All those communications that go between the manager and the customer and the process of project implementation are all the agreements and all the events that take place in the course of the project.

1. According to the clothes they meet. When meeting with a client, pay attention to the appearance in which you go to the meeting. Here is an important point - customer friendliness. The client should not be a source of problems, but a source of opportunity. It is important to prepare for the meeting - to receive information from the salesman about what they sold to the client, what kind of project, etc. Do a research about the client.



2. The clarity of design, clarity of thought. We all know about usability, about how important it is to design software, but not every manager understands that usability begins with communications. All communication should be as structured as possible and provide only the necessary information for the client. For three clicks, the client should receive key information in your reports.



3. Everything matters - the more you understand at the meeting, the more you take an interactive position, the more you understand - that your task is to save the client's time, and not get him 1000 hours of various questions. Moreover, the client will be impressed by the communication with you. Does the client need to connect to the payment system? The manager can do it for him, saving the client time.



4. Efficiency of resolving client’s issues - the client addresses you with some kind of question - you offer maximum effort to resolve this issue promptly.



5. Be available to the client - if the employee wants to work only from 10:00 to 18:00, such an employee is not suitable for the manager’s role, since the client may want to receive an answer during off-hours or weekends - let this time be paid for, but the manager should be willing to make such concessions.

6. The issue of accuracy and fulfillment of promises - it is important to fulfill promises and form such expectations for the client, which we can at least a little, but exceed. Promise to do one thing, but in the end do this and that. But in no case do not need to be repeated. Those. Sometimes it can and can be repeated, but so that it does not enter the standby mode.



7. Here you can also say that it would be good to be able to anticipate the client’s thoughts - sometimes the client’s requirements are not possible to fulfill, but this does not mean that it is necessary to state “impossible and everything” - you need to ask if any goals and interests of the client can accomplish everything it is possible.

8. Super qualities that you have - you can have super-memory: the technique is complete and people are always impressed by the characteristics that you do not have. Speed ​​reading, typing, stamina, ability to work and all that.



The next area of ​​experience organization is ENTERTAINMENT. The world is not only work. Invite customers to joint leisure, organize their joint trips - it helps to rally you as a team.

The second moment of organizing entertainment is visualization andhumor. Practically worth nothing, but they give an effective result. Insert humorous things in communications to make the client smile. On the slide, for example, there are monkeys that reflect the status of the order - the client was very pleased with this visualization.



The next block is the TRAINING block. In addition to aesthetics and entertainment, it is helpful to engage the client in work, so that the client is more impressed with your work. Here, two sub-blocks are learning and pure involvement. We, for example, used Google Drive when working with a client and the client liked it very much, he also used it in his company. The same international telephony. We have three offices in our company - Russia, Germany and Belarus, but they are all connected to one IP network. But sometimes it is very surprising customers when they call the German number to talk with people in Belarus. And the customers we hear the phrase - wow, I also want this.

Another point - in the training can be noted expert knowledge. If you, as a manager, have read something about the industry in which the client works and can advise him on something, then again this can be a very strong impression.

And the last block that I wanted to tell is the block of INVOLVEMENT. In this regard, what can you offer? First interactives. How many of you like to read user guides? And who reads the specifications to the end? Carefully and carefully? It is very difficult for a client to read the specification, and user manuals are almost always not read. How can this be changed? Give clickable forms, give videos instead of manuals. It will be rated better and the client will be impressed with what you provided to him.



Another thing that is often practiced is joint development - bring the client to the office, introduce him to the development, plant with the programmers and show how it all works ...



Brief conclusions:
  • I recommend always to exceed the expectations of the client, and not just fall into them.
  • Constantly evolve and follow the trends.
  • Develop a super quality.
  • And take sincere care of your customers.


It will both impress and will promote good and solid customer relations.

In my report, I actively used things underlined from two books, this is the previously named “Economy of Impressions” and also the book by Carl Sewell “Customers for Life”

. And I would also recommend all managers to read the books on marketing, customer marketing and sales. Sellers are taught such things as customer care, and the literature for managers is often dry.

- The next conference of SPM Conf, will be held on December 6th in Kazan (Russia). The program of the event has already been published - join the thinking managers.

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