A project that began one year ago finished up last week as the printer delivered cartons of books to a local community college.
Everyone is happy: the professor coordinating the poetry anthology program, the group that spearheaded the project, the poets, the printer, and of course, our design and project management team.
Why are they happy? The books are beautiful, and 35 county poet laureates and their families are thrilled to see their work appear in the volume. The entire project is paid for by a grant. But the primary reason why they are ecstatic? The books were delivered ahead of schedule.
Meeting a deadline is critical, but when you can exceed expectations by delivering early, it’s simply remarkable.
Remember this: Awesome customer service is one of the most important components of your marketing, and delivering a project on time, even ahead of time, can convince your client to become a customer for life.
Why? Because you have established trust—they know they can rely on you, they know they can sleep at night with the confidence that everything will work out because you will come through for them.
So, how do you take a project that involves more than 50 people and, over the course of a year, shepherd that project to a positive conclusion? The answer is to plan, schedule, build a professional team, and communicate clearly and frequently.
Plan ahead and stick to your schedule.
Over the course of a year, many things can throw a project off track. Babies are born, family members become ill, team members move from one town to another, life happens – plan ahead and stick to your schedule so you can adjust and move the project forward, no matter what happens.
- Working backward from the deadline, schedule every step that needs to be completed and pad the amount of time allocated for that portion of the job. In this case, the project was due April 15, so we set an arbitrary deadline of April 1. The entire month of March was blocked out for printing, a generous amount of time. The last two weeks of February were dedicated to final revisions. We scheduled every stage of the process, working our way back around the calendar to the original proposal and grant application.
- Build a team of professionals you can trust to get the job done well and on time. Even on this project, we received the book materials a month late, but because the team was ready to move and the designer was responsive, we were able to swiftly recoup lost time.
- Communicate clearly and check in frequently. The professor and I emailed regularly, especially during draft revisions, and I made a point of being responsive and proactive, setting his mind at ease about progress on the book. The local printer was a huge link in the chain of events—I checked in with him regularly, too, making certain he was aware of our deadline and on track.
So the next time you are asked to work on a project, commit yourself to delivering extraordinary customer service every step along the way. This type of marketing speaks volumes about you and your business, builds trust and can often secure you a lifetime of customer loyalty.