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Improve Communication With Your Customers With a Clear Scope of Work
“That’s not what I agreed to! This is nothing like I imagined it would look like!”
Have you ever thought that you were on the same page as your customer, only to get an angry phone call like the one above?
Communicating the scope of work you’ll be completing is one of the most important things you need to do at the start of a new job. If you’re not clearly communicating the scope of work, you’ll likely end up facing major problems with your customer down the line.
In this post, we’ll go over the current problems with how scope of work is communicated, how to fix these problems, and the benefits you’ll see from clearer communication with your customer.
What is a Scope of Work?
A scope of work (SOW) is a document that acts as an agreement between you and your customer for the work you’re going to do on a project.
A good SOW describes the who, what, when, where, and how of a job. Within the scope, you will find details pertaining to all parts of the job—from milestones to payment schedules—including any unique requirements for that particular project.
Typically a Statement of Work will include:
Deliverables: This is what will be ‘delivered’ to the customer when the job is complete—or what they can expect to have when you’re finished. Whatever it is that your project or service delivers for your customer, it needs to be identified in detail.
For large, complex, or technical projects, consider creating a visual representation of these deliverables, as it’s helpful for customers and ensures that everyone is on the same page.
Timeline: Every project needs a timeline that outlines the work from start to finish. A timeline should mark the different phases of work and when each deliverable is ready and is best presented in a visual format.
Milestones: Some projects are long and complex, which is why larger phases in the timeline are broken down into smaller tasks.
The larger phases are generally marked as “completed” when a milestone has been met. Identifying key milestones in the SOW is a good way to help monitor progress during the project.
Reports: During the work, you will likely be generating reports for either your customer or your team to discuss the progress of the work. Your SOW should discuss how and how often you plan to deliver these reports.
Because of the valuable information in the scope, it’s vital that it’s created as accurately, clearly, and thoroughly as possible. If anything isn’t clear or is miscommunicated, the entire project could be in danger.
How to fix miscommunication of your Scope of Work
There are several reasons your SOW may have been miscommunicated, but most of it comes down to confusion and misunderstandings between you and your customer.
Think about it. Your customer is hiring you to do a job because it’s something they can’t do and don’t know how to do themselves. So they’re not going to understand the exact steps you need to take unless they are clearly stated.
This is where most of the miscommunication happens. Don’t assume that your customer understands; you need to be as specific and concise as possible when presenting your SOW.
When it comes down to it, many of your customers will not understand exactly what you plan on doing without a visual aid.
That being said, an unclear or sloppy visual you drew by hand may lead to even more misunderstandings or confusion. When there isn’t a clear visual, the customer may assume they are agreeing to something completely different than what you are proposing.
When in doubt, think of the customer of your grandma—how would you explain to her what you’re doing to her home?
Be specific and concise, and use easy-to-understand visuals. Furthermore, be transparent and check in often with your customer to make sure you’re both still on the same page.
Benefits to a clear Scope of Work
The SOW provides the necessary direction for the project. Without a clear SOW that both parties agree to, it is almost impossible to deliver on a project that makes everyone happy.
There are three main benefits to a clear SOW:
1. Time savings
By spending a little extra time upfront on the scope, you are saving time in the long run for everyone involved. When there are no questions about the SOW, work can move forward without frequent interruptions.
2. Cost savings
If your SOW is unclear, chances are you will be spending more time on the job or returning to a job because there was a miscommunication about what needed to be done—and the more time you spend remedying a project, the more your cost increases. A clear SOW saves you money!
The last thing you want your business to be known for is miscommunication or underdelivering on a project. Rather, you want to secure repeat business and referrals. But an unclear SOW often leads to problems on the job and leaves businesses looking unprofessional.
By precisely communicating your scope and delivering on everything promised, you establish your reputation as a reliable business that follows through. And delivering on what you promised can only lead to higher rates of customer satisfaction, which will help you secure repeat business and referrals.
When a scope is clear and precise, the customer can voice any questions or concerns about deadlines, deliverables, and payments. A clear SOW with good visual aids also makes it easier for you to provide any necessary clarification about exactly what your customer expects from you.
Different scopes for different folks
Regardless of the industry, it’s important to produce a clear, understandable—preferably visual—scope of work.
Without one you’re likely to face several problems with your customer while also wasting your time, costing you more money, and potentially hurting your reputation.
ArcSite can help residential contractors by easily generating a visual estimate and scope of work to share with your customers, leading to higher close rates and higher customer satisfaction.
Book a demo with ArcSite today to learn how.