CRM: Of Customers and Crises

Laura Dallas Burford is the founder of LAD Enterprizes, a management consulting firm that partners with consultants as well as internal and external consulting organizations to successfully build the operational and delivery aspects of their practices. Laura appreciates feedback on her articles and can be reached at She is the author of Project Management for Flat Organizations.

Your quiet day quickly changes with the arrival of an urgent email message from your manager. A client project is a disaster, and the client is discussing cancelling the project. Would you be willing to step in as project manager? Can you help rescue the project and rebuild the fragile client relationship?

When a project is in trouble or crisis, there is a tendency to focus on what went wrong or who to blame. These actions are counterproductive and do not resolve the problem. Instead, focus on containing and preventing the situation from getting worse because impacts to the company’s overall business reputation and the bottom line are at stake.

In the above story, the manager acted decisively by replacing the project manager with a “new” leader. The “new” leader--with limited information--knows he or she must quickly resolve the client’s dissatisfaction. To resolve the situation, 1) be visible and listen; 2) strategize, be decisive, and act quickly; and 3) communicate regularly and often--leadership skills commonly used in crises.

Project versus Crisis Skills
Projects and crises are similar in that they have a clearly defined beginning and an end, and neither is to continue indefinitely. They both provide or create a product or service, and to be successful require people with various skills and experience to perform non-…

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It's like deja vu all over again.

- Yogi Berra