The key to meeting client expectations is to manage them well in the first place. Make sure your clients know what to expect by focusing on these five areas.
Clear terms and conditions
Your terms and conditions should clearly outline the expectations of your business. 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.
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. Try and use everyday language where possible. If you absolutely have to use industry jargon, make sure you educate your client in the basics first.
When you ask a client for approval to proceed, let them know what they are approving. Is it the concept, is it every word 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.
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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’s 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. Make sure other staff or contractors also familiarise themselves with the client and their requirements. Your client shouldn’t have to explain who they are and what they do every time they contact your business. Ensure client records are maintained and accessible so that your hard work isn’t undone.
Consistent marketing material
Your marketing material, including your website, should clearly reflect your business capabilities and the typical work carried out by your business. Remember to be consistent across all marketing media. If your business website and brochures list different services, it creates uncertainty. If you state that you are a full-service business on your brochure but you only dabble in certain areas (outlined on your website), it sends a mixed messages and only sets up potential clients for disappointment.
Focusing on improving these five areas will have a big impact on the way your clients experience your business.
What are your tips for managing client expectations?