The products you select for your low-voltage cabling project undoubtedly have an impact on the final result: performance, reliability and availability. But don’t overlook communication as the real difference-maker in a low-voltage cabling project.

How early, how often and how honestly you communicate and set realistic customer expectations for low-voltage cabling projects from Day One can set the stage for the type of relationship you develop, and how successful the job will be.

Based on our years of experience working with clients to set realistic low-voltage cabling project goals, here are some tips to kick off your project on the right foot and set realistic customer expectations.

1. Hold Project Kick-Off Meetings

At the very beginning of any low-voltage cabling project, set two meetings: one with your internal team and one with your client and its team.

The first meeting allows your team to get on the same page regarding project scope, timelines, project requirements, budget, frequency and types of communication expected, etc.

The second meeting is a time for you to discuss these same details with the customer, and review the formal project documents to make sure everyone understands the process moving forward. This is also a great time to agree upon how communication will occur: phone, email, weekly in-person meetings, through online collaboration software, etc. Customer expectations will differ when it comes to interaction preferences.

During these meetings, make sure important points are documented for future reference. Although it seems like a good task to assign to one person, that person may miss a relevant point, or may be absent – sharing the responsibility will ensure that every point is documented correctly.

The goal for both of these meetings is to make sure project strategy, goals and timelines are agreed upon before the meeting adjourns.

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2. Set Regularly Reoccurring Follow-Up Meetings

Schedule consistent catch-up meetings based upon client feedback regarding how often they want to communicate. There are several ways to conduct these status updates, depending on customer preferences: phone, Skype, online chatting or short in-person meetings. Each customer will have different expectations: some may want to know every detail, while others may only want to hear about potential issues as they crop up.

3. Stay On Middle Ground

Focusing on details, like project requirements and tight timelines, is crucial to keep customers informed. When details are overlooked, the end product could be a disappointment. But make sure not to over-communicate by providing details that don’t matter. The customer may need to know when cabling is scheduled to arrive at the jobsite, for example, but he probably doesn’t need to know everything that happens on your end to get it there on time.

4. Address Problems Directly

When problems arise (and they undoubtedly do), addressing them as early and as quickly as possible maintains a good client relationship. When communication is direct, honest and transparent, it will strengthen the relationship and allow trust to develop.

Show clients that they can trust you by communicating honestly with them when problems arise.

If the mistake is on your shoulders, admit what happened and explain what you’ll do to make it right. A mistake can cause temporary distrust with the client, but if they know you’re doing everything you can to fix it, and prevent it from happening again, the trust you build will be even stronger in the long run.

5. Don’t Promise What You Can’t Deliver

Be upfront with clients – what you tell them will set customer expectations for the project. In the beginning, and as the project progresses, discuss what is achievable – and what isn’t – based on your team’s skill level and availability.

Don’t over-promise and under-deliver. If your client asks you to perform tasks that you can’t, or within an impossible timeframe, don’t promise that you can do it if you’re not sure your team can deliver. This sets you up for failure, and will disappoint the client when things don’t turn out as expected. Instead of trying to set impressive goals and deadlines, set realistic ones – you’ll go much farther in building a long-lasting relationship centered on trust.

Learn more about how Belden meets customer expectations during LAN and low-voltage cabling projects.

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