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How to Lead Projects to Success with Efficient Customer Communication

Successful projects are often characterized by effective and concise customer communication. Tedious communication, however, quickly leads to misunderstandings and can jeopardize project success.

Good customer communication is not only tremendously important for building trust, customer satisfaction, and loyalty, but also for smooth project management. Therefore, in this blog, we address questions such as: What does good customer communication look like in projects? What should be considered during different project phases? And which tools help in communicating with customers? We will show you how you can strengthen your relationships with business partners through good customer communication and promote customer satisfaction.

Communication management for projects

There is no general recipe for project and customer communication. The best way to organize communication depends heavily on the project organization within your company. How complex is the project? Do you follow the classical project phases from planning to execution to completion? Or do you work with agile project management methods such as Scrum?

One thing we can already anticipate: Communication through an online customer portal should become the norm for every company. With a customer portal, the customer can track the current project progress at any time, as all data is automatically updated. Later, we will delve into the advantages of customer portals in more detail. But first, let’s clarify the core elements of professional customer communication and what you need to consider in different project phases.

6 Core Elements of Professional Customer Communication

  • Active Listening: Be fully present and focus on the customer during the conversation. Sit upright, maintain regular eye contact, and show verbal and non-verbal confirmation, such as nodding, to demonstrate that you are listening and interested.
  • Paraphrasing: Repeat in your own words what the customer has said. This ensures not only that you have correctly understood their comments or wishes but also gives the customer the feeling that you are actively engaged in the conversation.
  • Asking Questions: Another important element of good customer communication is asking the right questions. By asking open-ended questions (better to ask too often than too little), you gain a deeper understanding of needs and desires. Additionally, this establishes a mutual trust between you and your customer, leading them to be more open and share more details. This way, you won’t miss out on crucial information.
  • Empathy: Is your customer upset about a negative development? Try to understand their mood and respond to it. Clearly, something went wrong, and even if it’s not your fault, you can calm down an angry customer more easily with understanding and empathy than with defensive methods. You can start suggesting solutions once your counterpart feels understood.
  • Allowing Space: Give your customers enough room to articulate and share their thoughts. So, don’t interrupt them too quickly, even if it creates moments of silence in the conversation. If you’re unsure, you can also briefly ask if your customer needs a moment to think.
  • Open and Transparent Communication: Be honest. Even seemingly insignificant white lies or embellishments can cause a sense of suspicion. Don’t know something? Promise to get back to it later because you still need to gather the necessary information. Vague answers and phrases from the “Corporate Bullshit” category won’t help you here.

3 Phases in Project Management + Communication Strategies

The best strategy for customer communication varies slightly depending on which project phase you’re in.

1. Planning & Definition

Goal: Clearly formulate project objectives and create a project timeline.
Tip: Allocate enough “getting to know each other” time for new clients so that you can align with them and learn to speak their language. With existing clients, take a moment to reflect on previous projects and incorporate their feedback into the planning.

Pay attention to these elements in customer communication during the project planning phase:

  1. Active Listening: See core elements above.
  2. Tone of Voice: Ensure clear and understandable communication with the customer regarding the project’s goals. Avoid excessive use of jargon and get straight to the point.
  3. Documentation: Document the goals and ensure that both parties agree on what exactly needs to be achieved.
  4. Set SMART Goals: Ensure that the goals are achievable and realistic within the established time and resources. Discuss any risks or challenges with the customer and establish how they will be addressed.
  5. Negotiation and Compromise: Sometimes, the customer’s goals cannot be fully achieved within the established constraints. In such cases, it is important to communicate openly, discuss possible compromises, and find a realistic solution together. Use clear metrics, such as those from past projects, to justify your concerns.
  6. Project Communication Plan: Discuss the communication tools, who is responsible for what part of the project, and the frequency of updates thoughout the project. You can suggest the use of a customer portal, for example.

2. Execution & Controlling:

Goal: Implement the project plan and continuously optimize processes if necessary.
Tip: Regular communication with the customer is crucial during this phase. However, avoid rigid channels such as email, Excel, and presenting project status reports. A customer portal with an integrated project management and time tracking tool simplifies project control.

  1. Active Listening: See core elements above.
  2. Regular Communication: Even though your customer can track project progress in the customer portal, as the project manager, you should send regular updates. You don’t need to create reports or presentations. A short message listing the key points and referring to the dashboards in the customer portal is sufficient. Focus on communicating potential delays, new insights, and other relevant information.
  3. Share Interim Results: Keep your customers informed about interim results and involve them in the process. This helps identify and address problems early on.
  4. Proactive Problem Solving: Proactively communicate any issues that arise during the execution phase with the customer and discuss possible solutions. This ensures that your customer feels involved in the problem-solving process and is always aware of the situation.
  5. Quality Check and Feedback: Involve the customer in project control and ask for valuable feedback or input. Implement suggestions afterward and ensure that the end result meets the customer’s expectations.
  6. Expectation Management: Keep the customer informed about any changes to avoid false expectations. Clearly communicate what falls within the agreed project scope and what does not to avoid misunderstandings and disappointments.

3. Closing & Feedback

Goal: Evaluate project success and gather feedback for future collaboration.
Tip: When it comes to feedback, emphasize open customer communication. Always emphasize that it is not just about project billing or assigning blame but about identifying improvement opportunities. Conduct an internal feedback session with your team and a separate external feedback round with the customer.

  1. Active Listening: See core elements.
  2. Open to Critisism: Be open to feedback, especially when it is critical. Always consider negative feedback as valuable insights that can contribute to improving future projects and internal workflows.
  3. Clear Communication: Ensure that the customer’s feedback is clear to everyone. Ask open-ended questions if something is not understandable or if the feedback provided by the customer is too vague.
  4. Professional Response: Respond professionally, even if the customer’s feedback is negative. Thank them for their input and show that you appreciate their perspective.
  5. Implementation and Follow-up: Take the feedback seriously and incorporate relevant comments into your workflow. Inform customers about the improvements you and your team have made and how the feedback contributed to workflow optimization.

Benefits of Project Communication with Customer Portals

As mentioned, customer portals simplify your communication process and make project management easier. Here are all the advantages listed:

  • Central Source of Information: The online-accessible customer portal serves as a central place where customers can access all relevant project-related information. This includes documents, updates, schedules, dashboards, and financial data.
  • Real-Time Access: Customers have access to a cloud-based customer portal anytime, anywhere.
  • Approval Processes: A customer portal can also be used to involve customers in the approval process. For example, they can first approve your team’s recorded project hours before they are added to the final project invoice. The same applies to project-related expenses. This avoids discussions during the billing process and ensures that invoices are paid faster.
  • Efficiency and Time Savings: You save time by not having to create elaborate presentations and project status reports. Brief regular updates are sufficient, and you only schedule meetings when necessary.
  • Improved Transparency: A customer portal promotes transparency in project communication, as all stakeholders can access the project’s progress at any time. This fosters trust and strengthens the relationship between customers and the company.


Good customer communication and effective project management go hand in hand. By actively listening, communicating transparently, and proactively addressing questions and issues, you build trust and keep customer needs and expectations in focus. Sharing progresses and all project-related activities through a customer portal makes this even easier. You can track and share project hours and expenses effortlessly. This ensures efficient customer communication without much effort.

If you want to see for yourself, start your free trial today and test TimeChimp for 14 days. With our time tracking tool, you can easily track all project-related hours and expenses and share them in the customer portal. This ensures efficient customer communication without any hassle.

Easy does it.

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