When working with a large customer, everything they need is a rush, it makes you wonder how they got to be so big in the first place if they wait until the last minute for everything. The customer’s lack of planning usually can be attributed to not enough staff, so most people are doing several jobs making planning ahead difficult. This is in our best interest actually, I like to tell my customer’s that I’m an expert in planning ahead for them and that I would love nothing more than to take something off their desk and put it on mine. That is usually music to a customer’s ears, as long as you can back it up.
You must also be careful at the same time with this approach. You shouldn’t imply that you can read your customer’s mind, and still must ask all required questions when you receive something from them. Take a good look at what’s being sent to you, and ask all your questions in one email or phone conversation to be sure you don’t need to keep going back to your customer over and over getting the details for the project. It’s better to ask questions up front instead of trying to figure something out on your own and ultimately producing something for them they cannot use or did not want, wasting more time. Become a partner to your customer instead of a supplier. Offer solutions and alternatives to save them money (if you feel this brings value to your customer), and handle as much of the leg work as you can. They will notice and you will stand out from all the rest.