Handling Client Expectations
5 ways to keep your client.
Congratulations – you have a new client. Ideally this will be the beginning of a long relationship based on mutual trust. Sadly, like most good things they don’t come for free, this is your time to put in that little bit of extra effort. To make this relationship mutually beneficial it helps to take some basic measures that facilitate a two-way communication.
- Clear on-boarding process. It’s best to be specific from the start. Set up goals with your client and for yourself. This helps you and your client understand where you are heading and if you want to head there in the first place. Now is your time to ask!
- Be prepared. Stumbling into a client relationship ill-equipped immediately leads you down a rocky path. To avoid this, it helps to define a plan of action, it guides you along the process. Simply having it is not enough, though. Always share this piece of relevant information with your client so you can both keep track of what’s happening.
- Be more prepared. In case your plan falls through – have a plan B ready (maybe even a plan C). What happens if the original plan of action fails? Your client trusts you to guide them so it falls on you to be prepared for eventualities. This does not have to be a grandiose masterplan for world domination, it can be basic things. Again, the key here is to keep communication with your client going: Plan B can be as simple as telling them there is an issue you need to tackle together before the client stumbles across it on their own – use your chance to tackle possible problems together.
- Under-promise (and over-deliver). It sounds weird at first – don’t you want your client to think you are the best out there and can deliver everything they want? However, stop right there: over-promising is easy to do and then becomes very hard to take back. You are basically setting yourself up to fail when it is not necessary at all. Give your team and yourself some wiggle room within the project; otherwise all your previous trust building will be for nothing. Your client will always appreciate receiving that little bit more, receiving less might not go over just as well.
- Communicate – and then communicate some more. Ideally not just with your point of contact, you should make sure your point of contact is in touch internally as well. For a relationship based on trust it is always a good idea to share your roadblocks as well as successes. For better or for worse is true in this case, you want to grow together. Avoid rushing into a project without asking questions, it’s always better to ask sooner rather than later; keep your client involved.
To sum this up, you always want to be on the same page as your client, after all you are working together to achieve a common goal. Listen, empathise and be honest with your client and your relationship is already off to a good start. Have fun!