Luuuucy… You have some splainin’ to do!!! (Did I just age myself with this reference?)
I’m about to hop on a call with a client that may or may not have done their work for the meeting (ahem).
I ask myself: “Where are they in their business? And what’s on the schedule for today?”
But first, let’s rewind a few months.
I used to track my client engagement on a spreadsheet that I called Actions2Scale (fancy right?) in google drive. It had all the components I needed:
- Meeting dates
- What was accomplished during each meeting
- What the deliverables were
- Any notes my client or I had
The problem was that as a consultant, there are a lot of tangible worksheets and documents that my clients and I share, and since my average client is with me for about 7 months, this spreadsheet inevitably grew long, confusing and not easily searchable. Not only that, but with the mish-mosh of documents in google drive – we could never find anything quickly!
Since most of my clients are visual thinkers, I thought I would give Trello a shot. And boy am I happy I did! Here’s what it looks like:
1. Creating a Visual Roadmap
The first thing I do with my clients now is create a roadmap with all the modules of our engagement on the first few lists.
Keep in mind that pre-Trello, there was no visual roadmap for the client to know where we were going. No matter how much I listed out the milestones and talked about the direction of the engagement and what we were going to do next, there was NO VISUAL REMINDER.
It was like being on a road trip with my client, who kept innocently asking “are we there yet?” every 5 minutes.
In their defense though, it wasn’t their fault!
The problem was they didn’t know what had already been done, and what was still left to do. For the productivity geeks out there – I implemented some kanban-esque methodology. Fortunately, in Trello when we are done with a topic I can change the color (nifty right?). Take a look:
2. Forget About Client Amnesia
Client amnesia is a common condition in which the client can’t seem to remember the amazing work we’ve done together.
Symptoms include saying things like “I love this system – it literally takes me 2 minutes to do a proposal. Oh, was it you that helped me implement this?”
This used to raise my blood pressure and frustrate me to no end. Now, I just point them to the Trello board as I gleefully put my feet on my desk. After all, it’s a great way to show a historical record of everything that was accomplished. All without saying a single word. Not bad if you ask me!
3. When Clients “Hijack”
This doesn’t happen as much in my practice anymore (thank the lord!), but in the past I had clients take over the session with “emergencies” or what they thought were urgent questions. In other words, “Drop everything and help me now!”
Ever since I started using Trello however, clients can see for themselves when a task moves from this month to next month for example. Suddenly the urge to hijack a session is trumped by the urge to complete what they started.
Tweet this: A client’s urge to hijack a session is trumped by the urge to complete what they started.
It’s a beautiful thing, really. The psychology of wanting to see the white cards turn blue ( labeled complete) and knowing that this particular urgency will be covered in a systematic way puts a cease and desist on wasting time. (Can I get an amen!?)
4. Say Goodbye to Inbox Flooding
With Trello, there is simply no flooding of inboxes with back and forth updates, deliverables, homework, pre-work, or any kind of work really. It’s all in a nice checklist where clients can reference their tasks whenever they want, from anywhere in the world.
I’ve actually had clients text me in their PJ’s just to tell me how much they enjoyed checking a few items from their list.
Do NOT underestimate the need to complete things!
5. Delegating Tasks Has Never Been Easier
My clients can now share their board with their staff to strategize or delegate the work, and make sure everyone is on the same page.
6. Get Organized!
Out of all the benefits, one of my favorites is never hearing this question: “Where is that document again?”
Whether your documents are located in dropbox, a company server, or google docs, you can link to them inside the topics in Trello. Everything has context and searchability.
To sum up, here are all the benefits of using a project management tool to manage your client engagement:
- Clients have a visual roadmap
- Client Amnesia cured
- No more session hijacking
- Inbox flooding eliminated
- Easy to delegate tasks to team members
- Great way to organize documents
So let me ask you… How are YOU tracking your client engagement, and giving your clients direction in the process?
I recommend Trello (obviously), but I’m also open to learning about other options that would incorporate some or all of the concepts I discussed in this article.
I would love to hear from you either way!