The first step in managing clients is managing their expectations. In any relationship, especially in business, people want to be levelled with – told right up front what they’re getting…and when. Put this value at the center of your credence. By this we mean, chisel this into the rock of your business process. You want to make this a multidimensional approach to understanding what the client expects. This should include your own offline fact-gathering about the client and his or her company or industry (this should be part of your client prospecting process anyway).
Take notes drawn from direct conversations with the client and other pivotal stakeholders in the process, where you should be asking very pointed questions that would help guide you through the project. Formulate expectations with dates that can actually be found on a calendar. This means, every reference to “ASAP” or “as soon as possible” must be replaced with a reference that can be circled on a calendar. Consistency here is key.
Not only must you deliver a formal plan of action with clear definitions of what will be delivered and when, you must also reiterate these plans along the way through targeted milestones, or “touch points” with scheduled meetings, phone calls or email updates where each party can monitor progress.
Have a story to tell about your own experience with managing client expectations (good or bad) let us know in the comments below!