5 Tips for Managing Client Expectations
Client satisfaction is one of the most important factors when it comes to the success of your business. Satisfied clients can spread positive recommendations for your business and exponentially increase your client base. One way businesses can increase client satisfaction is to manage client expectations. Establishing client expectations can help to better manage inbound leads and ensure they are impressed with the services they received and the outcomes they experience.
Establish Clear Communication
Clear communication is key when managing client expectations. Consistent, authentic communication can help you to clearly exchange information with clients, and enables clients to understand exactly what you bring to the table and what services you will provide. In contrast, unclear communication can provide clients with unrealistic expectations and understandings of what exactly it is that you will do, which may not only hurt satisfaction but could negatively impact client retention.
An important factor when it comes to clear communication is setting realistic deadlines and goals. This ensures that clients know exactly what to expect from you and when to expect it. Without these clearly defined parameters, clients may have an incorrect understanding of the services you provide. This may lead them to become dissatisfied or impatient with your work. In order to clearly define goals and expectations, it may be useful to have a kick-off meeting to start the client on the right track. During this meeting, you can make sure to mention important details, such as terms of payment, who the point of contact is, the scope of the project, and the process by which it will be completed.
Create a Plan
In order to manage client expectations, you should create a concrete plan. This plan should include a timeline for the project as a whole, along with status updates to keep the client in the loop. Different aspects of this timeline can include the order of deliverables, deadlines, scheduled status calls, and more. These plans can also be used as a tool to incorporate any client feedback, and can be adjusted over time as new information presents itself.
A good plan can also help to keep your team on track and to ensure that they stay on schedule. By establishing a plan, you can implement clear milestones, deadlines, and target goals. A plan helps everyone to stay on the same page and know what to expect.
It’s a good business practice to underpromise what you can do for the client, and over-deliver in terms of your end result. This helps to ensure that the client’s expectations are met or exceeded, and prevents a client from being disappointed that you weren’t able to live up to your initial promises. It’s much better to provide more value than expected for a client than to fall short and leave a client expecting more.
Underpromising can be a useful strategy in a variety of different aspects of a project. This can include a project timeline, project goals, and project budget. For instance, it’s a good idea to include a little wiggle room in a project timeline, so that you don’t end up running out of time or being unable to finish a project by the proposed deadline. Similarly, you may want to overestimate when it comes to a project budget in order to avoid overspending. If you’re proposing specific goals that you’ll achieve for a client, it’s a good idea to be conservative in your estimates. If you do better than expected, it will be a happy surprise for both you and the client.
Honesty is key when it comes to managing client expectations. You should steer clear of the pitfalls of false advertising, especially when it comes to long-term business. Be honest from the beginning of your relationship with a client and throughout the process in order to ensure the clients don’t get the wrong ideas.
When informing clients about what you can accomplish and what you’ll deliver, it’s important to tell the truth and give them an accurate expectation of your services. This includes what you can or cannot guarantee, as well as any non-negotiable items. For example, if you aren’t able to absolutely guarantee success in a business venture or strategy, you shouldn’t promise success to your clients. If a client doesn’t receive the value that they were expecting, they will only be dissatisfied with your business. While it might be tempting to exaggerate exactly what you’re capable of, an honest approach from the start will likely result in greater client satisfaction further on.
Make Progress Reports
Weekly, monthly, and quarterly progress reports can be useful tools when it comes to keeping clients up to date and in the loop. You can use these reports to discuss a client’s return on investment and any progress that you’re making on particular tasks and projects. Progress reports can also include other relevant information such as recent accomplishments, budgets, and next steps. These reports are a great way to showcase what you’ve achieved so far, as well as to make plans for continued success in the future. Conversely, if you haven’t yet achieved success on a particular project, a progress report can be a great way to showcase how you plan to proceed differently going forward.
In addition to providing information to the client, progress reports can also help to keep your team on track and accountable. They can make progress (or lack thereof) more concrete, and ensure that all team members are on the same page when it comes to what you’ve accomplished so far and what you’re hoping to achieve in the future. Progress reports are also an effective tool to make sure that all team members are accomplishing their tasks in a timely manner and making sure that the project as a whole stays on schedule.
Managing client expectations is an integral part of developing successful relationships with clients and ensuring continued client satisfaction. By managing expectations, you can help your clients understand exactly what they can expect from you. By being honest about your services and underpromising in terms of what you can deliver, you can help to ensure that your client is satisfied and receives more than they expected.