Client expectations are formed over time from a variety of sources. How you interact with your clients, the service you provide and information that is made available to them shape their perception of the product or service they will receive. Here are five areas to focus on how to better manage client expectations.
Consistent Marketing Material
Your marketing material including your website should clearly reflect your business capabilities and the typical work carried out by your business. Are you consistent across marketing media? If your website and brochures list different services it creates uncertainty. If you state that you are a full service business but you only dabble in certain areas, is that fair to your potential clients? Will their expectations be met?
Clear Terms and Conditions
Do your terms and conditions clearly outline your expectations? Is it clear how many versions or changes are considered routine and included in the cost? Do you specify a turnaround time or payment conditions? Get these areas defined early in the process so that you and the customer are both on the same page going forward.
If your client had initially agreed to Job A but now want you to also do Jobs B and C it is best to get them to sign a new contract for the additional services with any different terms and conditions highlighted.
Establish early on the level of understanding that your client has about your service. Ask them some questions about what they are expecting to get from your service. If there is a knowledge gap you need to educate them. Don’t launch into an explanation full of industry jargon. Try and use everyday language where possible or if you absolutely have to use jargon make sure you educate your client in the basics.
When you ask a client for approval to proceed let them know what they are approving. Is it the concept, is it every word and format on the page, is it something in between? Your understanding of what is being approved is likely to differ from your client’s.
Use your website and social media to write about your process, provide examples of work you have completed previously and provide articles that may assist the client to understand your service. If they come to you with a good understanding and clear expectations, the process will flow much more smoothly.
Your clients want to know that they are dealing with a real person not a robot. If your client contacts you, respond with a short personal response in a reasonable timeframe. If a client doesn’t hear from you, they are probably wondering if you received their message at all. On larger projects communicate your progress at regular intervals so your client is aware that progress is being made.
Delays sometimes can’t be avoided, when a delay is anticipated inform your clients as soon as possible, tell them why and provide a realistic timeframe for the new date/time of supply. Most clients are understanding if given advance warning.
If your client has specifically asked for something and you don’t agree, don’t ignore it, they have obviously asked for a reason. As the expert it is your job to guide them to a suitable solution.
Make sure everyone involved in your business follows the same process. Consistent positive experiences are appreciated by your clients. No doubt you understand your client’s business and their requirements, so make sure other staff or contractors also familiarise themselves with the client. If each time your client contacts you they have to explain who they are, what they do and other questions which they have answered many times before it can get a little irritating! Ensure client records are maintained and accessible so that your hard work isn’t undone.
There are many other methods to ensure client expectations are met however when those listed above are implemented well it will make a big impact to the way your client experiences your business.
What do you do to manage client expectations?