Designing in a Client Centered Service World

By David Drewes-Moore

Designing mechanical systems is a constant exercise of give and take between all disciplines. Being a consultant to a client who is the primary party of this give and take is a challenge in many ways. You want to meet and exceed the expectations of your client without giving up your fundamental purpose of maintaining your budget. Depending on your project team and your client, this can be an easy and cohesive process, but other times more of a challenge. For me, it comes down to a few factors that can be managed: project staff and client personality matching, project staff training and client relationship.

Matching your staffs’ personality traits with that of your client is a great way to help ensure a smooth project. If you have a fast paced client who has a “no nonsense” approach, pairing that client with a like-minded project manager is a must. Another client with a laid back attitude would be better paired with a self-starter personality on your team. If possible, looking at these pairings from the start can be a large benefit down the road of the project.

Staff training levels that match the client and their capabilities is another manageable item. If a client is well versed in BIM and energy modeling, assigning your team members with these skill sets should to be a priority. If a client has a small budget and fast paced project that is not utilizing specialized programs or procedures, pair staff with the appropriate training level. All parties talking the same language without an outside interpreter is obviously a benefit for all.

Client relationship is a larger topic and I point to it so all team members, no matter their role, understand their impact in that relationship. No matter whom the client, courteous, fast and informed responses is the template to follow no matter what your project responsibilities are. Go out of your way and above the expectations whenever possible. Whether it’s taking personal interest in a client or delivering a simple compliment, anything else you can add to make the interaction better, is the icing on the cake.

These are the three items I like to start with on all projects and I’ve had good client interaction experiences on the majority of my projects. I say majority, because there is always room to improve!


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