Keeping a customer happy is difficult, especially when you have delayed the date of delivery of advances or the final presentation. In this article, you will find seven tips that will help you mitigate the tensions caused by inevitable delays.
Time is money.
Assuming that the quality of your deliverables is optimal, the sooner you finish a project, the more time you have available to generate more money. When you are a supplier of a product or service, you should always keep in mind that this phrase is also applied by your customers.
Failure to comply with the delivery date of a project not only causes damage to your customers but also to your reputation and future as a professional. Building a relationship that yields important economic benefits with a long-term client is based primarily on a very valuable asset: trust.
The customer must be assured that you are a responsible supplier and committed to their interests. Letting a deadline go by to honor a work commitment is a starting point for the doubt that the next requests they meet can meet their expectations.
No freelancer or agency is free of contingencies. The loss of data, a power outage, an unfulfilled provider, a personal accident or even overconfidence can lead to delays in delivery even for the most trained and experienced professionals.
To overcome these impasses, keep in mind the following tips:
- Always add two or three more days to your delivery times. In this way, you will not only be covered in the face of some unforeseen event, but it will also give you the chance to surprise your client by giving him the offered project BEFORE. Make sure you work in collaboration with highly efficient businesses yourself. For example, a fast printing service can speed up your project completion and cut down the time it takes to deliver.
- If the delay is imminent, you must notify the client of the status of the request. When you are certain that you will not be completed on time, you should discuss the problem with the client as soon as possible. Depending on the consequences of the expired limit, you can contact the customer via email to give him the information or call him to find out how to restate the delivery date and apologize for the failure. It is likely that the client, even if bothered by the failure, is grateful that he has been informed about the irregularity and understands the setbacks that affect the fulfilment of the goal.
- The client could also understand that they are situations that may occur sporadically and not take it as recurring conduct of the contracted personnel. That is why it is necessary to be proactive and act at the necessary time.
Transparent communication is vital to leave without doubt the client about the irregularity that delays his request and what solution you offer to correct the error. Although it is not necessary to extend into an explanation of the fault, it is ideal to indicate concise details so that the client’s trust suffers as little damage as possible.
Stay professional and tell him about the delay as soon as it appears. Avoid asserting that everything is going as planned and that the project will be delivered on time if you know full well that this is not the case. You will rarely catch up, and the client will be disappointed. Be honest: explain the reality of the situation as well as the causes of the delay to the client and give him a new deadline that you will be able to meet. By doing so, you will be much more credible in the eyes of the customer.
Although the delay was caused by an external factor, never blame anyone for the fault. What the client wants to know is when your project will be ready; any other explanation will sound like an excuse and will make you look unprofessional. It is not necessary to blame someone but to look forward to recovering lost confidence.
Be cautious after notifying the customer of the problem and hearing their response about the irregularity, coordinate a new delivery date that is realistic and satisfies the customer. Carefully analyze what you plan to establish as there is a risk that the rush will make you deliver a job of poor quality.
Prepare to lose money.
In a business relationship with a customer, sometimes you will have to give up profits or lose money. It is likely that in order to meet the new delivery date, you must work overtime or even hire someone to help you finish the project. This cost you must fully assume.
Offer a discount.
It is better to lose money than to lose a customer. The money is easy to recover, the customer not so much.
After fulfilling the objective, after the irregularities, the next step is to avoid inconveniences in the successive commitments. To get the most out of it, you must identify with certainty what was the obstacle that generated the setback and thus, if it is presented again, know how to overcome it without affecting the project or damaging the relationship with the client.
How to explain a delay on a project (or on a task)?
In addition to being frustrating, delaying a task or a project can have significant financial consequences, even lead to the project failing. No project, no industry, no company is immune from the delay.
There is a multitude of reasons why a project may be delayed. Fortunately, most of these reasons are preventable. It just takes a little planning and organization.
The different causes of delay
Supplier problem, lack of planning, external influences. There are several causes of delay for a project or task. Here is a list of the 6 most common causes.
Problems and delays are inevitable if your project is not properly planned from the start. The plan is a crucial step. All aspects of the implementation of your project must be detailed in the schedule: the tasks to be carried out, the deadlines and the budget allocated, the resources allocated. Thus, you are sure that your project will be profitable, have enough resources and can be executed according to the parameters that you defined beforehand. By planning your project properly, you leave little room for unforeseen events and delays.
Lack of collaboration
A successful project is, above all, a team effort. All members of the project team must collaborate with each other and help each other to meet deadlines. If there is a delay on a task, there is a good chance that the tasks which depend on it will also be delayed. Like a game of dominoes, the slightest delay will quickly have an impact on the whole project.
Meeting deadlines must be imperative for your team, and effective collaboration is the best way to succeed.
Customer change request
The specifications were clearly defined, and your team works tirelessly to maintain deadlines when the client decides to make changes. This situation is more common than you think, and if you are not prepared for it, it will generate delays on the schedule and delivery date of the project.
By managing your project with the agile methodology, you prioritize the needs of the client. His satisfaction is your priority, and for this, you communicate regularly with him to find out his needs and requirements. So, no unpleasant surprises or unexpected change requests.
A project or task may be delayed due to a supplier who is unable to deliver the requested material on time. In fact, your supplier may not have been delivered on time, may be out of stock, or may have gone bankrupt.
In this case, the best solution is to change supplier quickly. If this is not possible, you will have to take your trouble patiently and try to catch up otherwise.
You have underestimated the number of resources necessary for the accomplishment of your project or one of your collaborators left in full project. The workload is too high, and your team is unable to complete the requested tasks within the time allowed.
To resolve this perilous situation, you must recruit manpower, either permanently or temporarily through a service provider or a subcontractor.
Sometimes a project or task is delayed due to external factors completely beyond your control, such as the weather, transportation or even politics. For example, construction sites and the transport sector are highly dependent on weather conditions. If it is raining, snowing, or in the event of a natural disaster, it is impossible to continue the construction of a building or take the road to deliver a client. Delays are therefore inevitable. It is therefore essential to provide an emergency solution or sufficient room for maneuver for this type of unpredictable event. Learn more about how to manage project delays.
Providing a late deliverable can lead to a slight drop in confidence. To compensate for this, a commercial gesture will be highly appreciated: financial compensation, additional service or product, small gift. An excellent way to improve or maintain a good relationship. Lack of organization is often the main cause of delays in the area of project management. Be aware, however, that the delay is not inevitable and that it is possible to anticipate it if you know the possible causes.