Communicating through challenging times

December 10th, 2021

NKBA is very aware of the impact of global supply chain issues, as well as the increasing pressure on designers, manufacturers and suppliers as demand for renovations and new builds rise. These two issues combined have created the perfect storm for the industry as workloads increase and certainty over material supplies decrease.

In these challenging times, conflict resolution and careful client engagement are key to improving client experiences and the prevention and repair of reputation damage.

NKBA recently held an online webinar for NKBA members with Communications professional Jackie Curtis of Cherry Red Consulting to provide guidance on how to handle communications around supply and demand appropriately.

According to Jackie the key to achieving the best outcome is to strive for excellence in communications. This starts from day one when your client makes initial contact. Jackie recommends clearly explaining the current challenges with supply and demand at the start of the relationship. Be very clear about the issues that are currently creating pressure and delays and help clients to understand the reasons behind these issues. It is also a good idea to make sure you provide your client with this information in writing so there is no future misunderstanding.

Ensuring your clients fully understand the design and construction process is also essential. Great design doesn’t happen overnight and getting all the contractors teed up to deliver in the right sequence takes excellent juggling and negotiation skills.

It’s important to agree on realistic timeframes before starting and to make sure you report against an agreed timing on a regular basis with your client.

If you know that there is a particular product that is difficult to source, make sure you suggest alternatives to your client that are more readily available.

Once the design and build process is commissioned, it is essential that you introduce ongoing and regular communications. We tend to fill communication and information voids with our own version of the facts, and this is not always accurate. So keep on talking. Even if you have nothing to say, keep calling and let your client know any news and updates, even if there is nothing new to add.

If you do come up against unexpected challenges or delays, let your client know immediately. They don’t want to hear it from a third party. Work with the client to find a solution to the issue and involve them throughout the process. Own any issues and work together to find solutions. Often, when we hit a brick wall or a problem we want to “run and hide”, particularly if there has been a range of issues throughout the process. However, this is the time when even greater communication is needed, not less.

Communication starts at the beginning of the relationship and ends when the project is signed off. And there can never be too much.

For more information on conflict resolution or if you need assistance handling a challenging client relationship- please reach out to the NKBA head office. We are here to help all our members.