How to Build Trust with Customers when You’ve Missed Several Deadlines
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If customers start to micro-manage your project it means they have lost faith in your ability to deliver the project on time and they do not trust any timelines you give them.
There are 3 ways you can re-gain customer trust:
1. Set a deadline for a small feature/section of the project and over-deliver a week/month before your deadline – set a deadline and come back to them well before the deadline.
To help you decide which part of the project you could over-deliver think: “Is there a feature they care about which would not be a big part of the project for us to work on, with less risks, less unknowns as we have the experience of having done this sort of feature/work before?”
2. Set a deadline and the moment issues come up and you know you will not be able to deliver on time, call them and explain what is happening.
They might even be able to help you by giving you more information or data you might need. People appreciate when they are kept in the loop, because it helps them imagine (the HOW part of the brain) what is going on, thus are less likely to feel threatened and react in fight, flight or freeze. The moment trust is lost, they are in fight, flight or freeze mode in all their interactions with you.
3. If you can, be open with the customer about why you missed the original deadlines in the first place.
By explaining to customers what challenges you faced in trying to deliver the product by the agreed deadline, they can see WHY you delayed the project and HOW things happened, they won’t necessarily be happy, but they will trust you more. The brain loses trust when it doesn’t understand WHY.
To prevent customer trust being lost, inform them as soon as you know the project will not be delivered on time. This way they can plan better their own internal deadlines and work with you to resolve it, rather than hindering your work by micro-managing you. The sooner you tell them before the deadline, the more they will trust you.