How much time do you spend managing client expectations?
If it is not as much as you did when you were trying to win their business, you are not putting in the energy and commitment they expect.
Here are six simple ways you can manage your client’s expectations better:
Set expectations from the beginning
A brand new client will not know what to expect from you at the start of a project. You can communicate this to them at the start. Tell them how long it will take for you to respond to an email or phone call. How will you handle project overages?
Offer regular updates on project progress
There are numerous ways to do this. A daily or weekly email. An online project plan the client can see. A flow chart showing where the project stands. Even a regularly scheduled meeting once a week can do the trick. The more regular the communication, the more comfortable the client will be.
You may think you are communicating with the client too much. But, there is never too much when it comes to keeping clients up to date. Also, make sure that that communication is going beyond your point of contact to others in the client organization.
Always build in contingency time to any project plan. Unexpected events can occur, and you don’t want to deliver bad news to the client. A time buffer will give you flexibility and keep the project on schedule.
Be a good listener
Some clients will have difficulty expressing what they want to accomplish. That uncertainty is where careful listening, and a bit of intuition, can help. When you can identify what they want, repeat it back and verify the accuracy of the takeaways.
Be honest and realistic about budgets
Before starting the project, you need to have a clear understanding of the budget required. It is important to have regular meetings where you discuss the budget. Also, if something unexpected arises, that will affect the budget, call the client immediately.
The bottom line is that you have to be proactive in managing your client’s expectations.
If the client has to keep pestering you for updates or is not getting the level of attention he thinks he deserves, you will have an unhappy client. Keeping the client’s expectations in check will put you in a good position to build your relationship well into the future.