Outreach Can Be Essential To the Success of Infrastructure Projects

By Sarah Rossetto

You may not recognize it as one of Katz & Associates’ core services, but customer service is an essential aspect of many of the large-scale construction communication programs we manage. Construction impacts like traffic, accessibility and noise can complicate or delay projects, especially if opposition becomes vocal. Day-to-day construction-related inconveniences can turn into major quality of life impacts if they are not proactively addressed.

Below are some of our top tips for implementing a solid infrastructure communication program and managing the customer service facet of construction relations.

Sit at the contractor team table. It’s important that public outreach is represented at and discussed during construction meetings. The outreach team will view construction work from the perspective of stakeholders and can contribute insight into potential issues and concerns before they arise.

Develop a construction impacts mitigation plan. In some cases, it may make sense to involve stakeholders in the planning process for the mitigation of construction impacts. Stakeholders may be able to have some influence on project elements, including traffic planning, aesthetic features or the construction schedule.

Respond promptly. All stakeholder calls and emails should be responded to within 48 hours. Regardless of whether the resident’s concern is time-sensitive, it is courteous to address it promptly. Construction activities may move quickly, and it is important to provide timely and relevant responses to all calls and emails.

Be patient and understanding. Residents’ emotions can be elevated when quality of life is impacted by construction. Listening well can help residents voice their concerns and release some emotion before moving toward a constructive conversation.

Go above and beyond if something goes wrong. If impacts are worse than anticipated, go above and beyond to make the situation right. Did cars get covered in dust? Give out car wash vouchers. Were businesses inaccessible during work? Help them make up for the loss by assisting with marketing. Were commuters stuck in construction-related traffic? Hand out coffee as they wait. Small actions can go a long way!