Under promise, over deliver: Managing client Expectations

Working with a variety of different types of clients can be a challenge and understanding the skills needed to manage their expectations is priceless! It all comes down to communication, developing trust, active listening, and setting up realistic guidelines.

  #1 Communication   

Communicate consistently and openly. Make sure communication is your top priority. Not only does this mean your client will be up to date with what’s going on, but it also means that any concerns or problems are addressed and resolved before they escalate.

Starting with the ‘kick-off’ of the project, be sure to ask all the right questions—

  • What is the goal of the project?
  • What is their expectation of us?
  • How many other stakeholders are involved?
  • How often do they want to communicate and how do they want to communicate?
  • Do they want to email, call, or have meetings?

This is the time to set goals, limits, and expectations. Make sure what the client is requesting is realistic and you can deliver. Once that is decided, set up the communication process.

  #2 Develop Trust   

Doing what you say you are going to do it the best way to develop trust. Be upfront—If you see constraints, discuss and work on a resolution. Review the contract to allow feedback from the client. Be clear on the billing process, so there are no surprises. The more the client trusts you, the easier their expectations will be to manage.

  #3 Active Listening   

Ask questions and then intently listen to the answer. Pay close attention to what is being said and repeat back to the client what was discussed to ensure you understand. A great technique is to send a follow up email recapping the conversation. This will confirm that you are hearing what they are saying.

  #4 Set Up Realistic Guidelines   

It can be easy to say yes to everything the client wants, however, if you are not able to deliver, this will inevitably create disappointment and lack of trust. At the onset of a project, set up a clear schedule, budget and path forward.

Listening to, understanding, and managing the client's expectations can be tricky. Using these four simple techniques can make this process go smoothly.

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