Learning how to effectively manage client expectations takes time, experience, and practice. Professionals who are successful at helping clients set realistic expectations are typically self-aware and honest about their abilities. Consider the following tips so you can maintain effective relationships with happy clients.
1. Anticipate the clients needs
Clients will look to you as the professional for guidance. Homeowners embarking on a remodel, renovation, or new build are often doing this for the first time and have no idea what to expect. They want to feel like you are in control and that you know what you are doing and when you should be doing it. Use your experience to prevent problems before they start. Let your clients know you are thinking about them and their project regularly.
2. Be honest about how decision changes will affect the project
One of the biggest potential obstacles you face when managing a project is dealing with clients who either struggle to make a decision or those who frequently change their minds. It’s important to make your clients aware from the start of how these situations can affect the scope and cost of the project, along with the timeline. A few stalled decisions or changed selections can dramatically shift timelines. While flexibility is key, your clients should be made aware how their role is equally important when ensuring an effectively executed project.
3. Know your limitations
Having the self-awareness to know what you are skilled at and what you are not skilled at will save you countless headaches in your profession. Know your capabilities, sell yourself where you know you excel, but be honest about your weaker points when necessary. Clients shouldn’t expect you to be able to do everything. As the saying goes; jack of all trades, master of none. Dabbling in many skills may have provided you with beneficial experience, but gaining expertise in one area may take you further. Only commit to what you know you can accomplish. Remember to under-promise and over-deliver.
4. Get everything in writing
At any given time you’re juggling multiple clients, information is flying around between phones, emails, and text messages. It can get hectic to say the least. As time goes by, clients can forget what they agreed to or changes they have requested. It’s imperative to write everything down. From the initial proposal and contract to every little detail along the way, document absolutely everything. If a client comes back with a dispute, you will be so thankful you took the time to take these critical notes. Besides, sometimes clients just need to be reminded of what they asked for.
5. Follow up regularly
Keeping in constant communication is one of the best ways to manage client expectations throughout the duration of a project. Let them know when things are on schedule, behind, or when you plan to jump back onto their project. Establish a set schedule for when the client can expect to hear from you. If there is a change in schedule, make the client aware of the shifted timeline so there are no surprises. You may be surprised by how patient clients can be when you remain upfront, honest, and trustworthy.
These essential tips, though simple and effective, are only a few of the ways you can help your clients set realistic expectations. If you want to keep improving your clients’ satisfaction, consider offering a survey after the completion of projects. Request direct feedback from your clients about what they liked, what didn’t work for them, and how their experience could have been improved. By consistently evaluating the success of each project, you can continue to refine your process, ensuring better results each time.