|Taking on a new client can be an exciting business venture, but it can lead to some difficult conversations when managing client expectations for your work. However, this is not limited to when you start working with new clients; as a business person, you’ll need to be consistently managing the expectations of the people that you work for or with. So, what are client expectations? Well, these can include project timelines, what workload is appropriate for their budget, communication, turnaround times, and much more. To maintain a good working relationship with someone, these need to be established early on. If you’re struggling to manage your client expectations, you may need some professional help to start you off. Employing the services of an interim management agency could help you implement some protocols that give you more control. For now, we’ve got some tips to help you manage client expectations.
You can manage your client expectations by being honest with them from the beginning. Both your and your client’s money and time are valuable. In order to avoid a disagreement down the line, it’s essential to be transparent with them about how long certain services will take and how much they will cost. If you’ve previously stated this information to them and have it on record, you can show this to the client if they’re expecting too much too quickly. This should not be used as ammunition as we recommend maintaining a friendly atmosphere, but it’s important to show that you covered all of your bases.
Understanding what your client wants from the start of your business relationship is an excellent way to manage their expectations. This also gives you a tool to measure your progress against and will help you to monitor the project and ensure you’re on track. On top of this, you’ll be able to relay your positive news to the client whilst using the goals you defined to back it up. Clearly defining your goals manages client expectations as they can inform you on what’s a priority and what has more of a grace period. This avoids misunderstanding and helps everyone stick to a deadline.
This may seem like a contradicting tip, as you may wonder why engaging more with your client would manage their expectations. However, communicating little and often with your client avoids loaded and long meetings where they air all their grievances once a month and leave both of you drained. By contacting clients regularly and giving them simple but often updates, any issues will be diffused before it’s too late. This also puts the client at ease that you’re keeping up with their work. Having frequent communication can also benefit you, as it sets a standard of reply time. You don’t want to be in a position where your client is taking over a week to approve your work or respond to your queries.
Little and often communication is beneficial. However, this doesn’t mean the client should be contacting you multiple times a day and out of your working hours. You must set boundaries like no contact on weekends and make it clear you may take 24 hours to respond. This goes beyond communication, you must set boundaries on how long you’ll spend on this client and how much budget you’ll be putting into it. Setting boundaries is a powerful tool that will help you in the long run.
Overall, managing client expectations doesn’t have to be an inherently negative experience. By taking the time to define your and your client’s expectations properly, you can ultimately do a better job and have a good working relationship with them. Don’t be afraid to be firm but fair, otherwise you may end up stressed and underselling yourself.