Tell me if you’ve experienced this before; a project is already at completion phase but the client is somewhat dissatisfied with you or your agency. This is often the worst, yet possible outcome of any creative project. Most often, this is caused by unaligned or undefined client expectations. The common factor is when projects are rushed into or when an agency wants the work so much that they don’t want to cause doubt in the client’s mind by asking too many questions.
Managing and meeting expectations can be difficult but not impossible. It is important to separate what the client “wants” from what is attainable within the scope and available resources.
A defined, repeatable and agile onboarding strategy will likely solve a majority of the issues that cause a client’s expectations to go unchecked, but there are also a few practical tips for setting and managing expectations so that both parties are on the same page and happy.
Without establishing clear rules, it will be hard for either party to be satisfied with the results. Consistently having positive relationships with clients leads to a calmer work day and a higher level of productivity.
Here are 6 tips to manage expectations.
Set goals, Point to these goals… All the time
All project goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. It may be difficult to manage the expected success of a project without first setting mutually agreed upon goals that align with the client’s business goals. In addition, when the client’s goals are established, you can point to these when they request a last-minute project change / addition or wants to start over on a campaign.
Be Honest, Stay Honest
This may sound like a no-brainer with handling business / clients but it is important to always tell clients in the first meeting or conversation that there are no absolute guarantees. Be transparent about what you can and can’t accomplish — what the limitations of the process are. Share case studies and examples of your previous work. This will help the client reassess their expectations. It might also be as simple as detailing the possible risks in the project, and prevention methods.
Under promise but Over deliver
How do you do this without raising doubt in the client’s mind about your capabilities? It is always best to give your team some cushion for the unexpected, and then deliver beyond your promise. It will benefit you to know that under-promising a client on achievable deliverables is the best way to weigh expectations with reality.
Everybody makes this mistake most of the time. It could be you misheard a sentence, or you focused on a single sentence in an email thread and glazed over the rest. Don’t make assumptions. Let the lines of communication be open and clear. Keep communication open and flowing by giving regular reports, actionable information on the progress of projects for clients, so that all stakeholders are clear on the plan, strategy and direction at all times.
Help your client understand their strength in the market
Every client believes they have a fantastic product with a unique selling point to offer. They tend to think that with a marketing strategy in place, they’ll get 100% conversion or sales . It is your responsibility to help them see where they are in terms of marketing sophistication and maturity and the steps it will take to begin to see results that are common in their industry.
Anticipate the Client’s Needs
This one takes time and practice, but think about it: no one knows your business as well as you do. Going by this, from a brief or meeting, try to foresee what the client expects as the result of the project. You know when things are going great and when you need to ramp up your efforts.
Hopefully, by incorporating these steps, you’ll be on a path to a smoother relationship with your clients.
Kehinde Akinnusoye is the UI/UX Lead at Webcoupers, a Lagos-based Digital Marketing agency.
Photo Credit: Kurhan | Dreamstime.com