Guide To Managing Client Expectations
Clients’ expectations don’t always match what you’re offering so it’s essential to start your working relationship on the right foot. In the long-term, you’ll find this will decrease your stress levels while maintaining your clients’ satisfaction.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to manage client expectations effectively — without becoming overly stressed and driving clients to your competition in the process.
Set clear boundaries
Lots of service owners are guilty of overdoing things at times. Unfortunately, this can result in clients taking advantage of your team and your time.
When that happens I’ve found being straightforward and explaining your limitations in a way clients can understand is the least painful solution.
For example, setting hours of operation and maintaining them ensures your customers aren’t expecting replies to their messages on weekends. Having these boundaries in place makes it so if you do decide to answer an email outside of your hours, your clients are appreciative rather than expecting.
Write client expectations down
Merely hearing and understanding the expectations of your clients isn’t enough. Our memories aren’t as good as we’d like to believe. With this in mind, write your clients’ expectations down on paper, a notepad, etc.
Whenever you have a conversation, it’s always a good idea to send a quick email follow up providing a summary of what was discussed. You can also include the next steps and the outcomes you’re looking to produce following the conversation.
By writing everything out, you’re keeping track of what you and the client are agreeing to do. As a result, you can expect fewer misunderstandings.
Verbally communicating just doesn’t have the same effect. When you agree to conditions or terms, having everything in writing with precise wording ensures everything can be re-read in the case of a misunderstanding as opposed to relying on memory.
Use reporting to show what you’re accomplishing
If you’re providing SEO services, you may already be using reporting tools like SERPbook or SERP Robot to do rank tracking for your clients. Many of our sellers are showing these reports directly in their client panel.
First, this allows customers to sign in and get up-to-date reports on their campaigns and results. Second, it helps establish your values as a service provider (assuming those reports reflect you in a good light).
Share project milestones
By showing the progress of a customer’s order, you’re helping to limit the communication between you and your clients. When your clients know where they are throughout the month, there’s no need for them to micromanage the process.
For example, with SPP clients can see the status of their order changing as it’s going through the production process. This results in fewer questions or concerns because clients are constantly in-the-know (as long as orders are completed within the agreed time frame)
Define desired outcomes
Defining the outcome you and your client are working towards– the thing which clients are paying for– is amazingly helpful for eliminating confusion.
Thankfully, it’s a core part of the productized services ideology. The specifics can vary from client to client, but having a clear deliverable helps alleviate your clients’ worries about what your services will do for them, and at what cost.
Some agencies make the mistake of overpromising to find new clients. While this can help gain some traction initially, this is a short-lived approach. When it comes down to it, overpromising will produce unnecessary problems down the line as a result of unrealistic expectations.
The key here is to maintain realistic expectations — so keep it simple, and under-promise.
What do you know your service is capable of doing for your clients? Now scale that back a bit, and promise what you know you can achieve. Anything extra your services does will be viewed as over-the-top, ensuring you going beyond expectations is met with gusto every time.
Communication is essential for an excellent service-client relationship. And this is precisely why you should constantly communicate everything that’s happening over the course of your interactions.
Reach out to your client and let them know what you’re working on. Also, don’t hesitate to explain what you’re planning to do for them in the future.
Maintaining continuous communication with your clients means you’ll always understand their expectations. This also gives you the chance to build their expectations through your interactions.
Maintain authenticity & transparency
The proposals many businesses are putting out into the world contain a lot of false information. Overpromising is a severe problem in the services industry. So when you maintain your authenticity, you’re already a step ahead of your competition.
By staying authentic, you’re taking a step towards managing expectations. You’re telling it how it is — and your clients will appreciate the effort.
Rather than making false promises and giving unreal expectations, you give it to them straight. You don’t beat around the bush, and you’re honest with your assessment.
You’ll highlight the potential — as well as the challenges — of working with them. And as a result, you can expect your clients’ expectations to stay within reason.
Have clear terms of service
Terms of service define your working relationship with the client. What is it they’re getting, who owns the rights to it, when the customer is charged, what happens if they don’t pay their subscription, how you handle refunds etc.
While you can require an airtight contract signed by both parties (especially when the client doesn’t pay upfront), most productized service sellers on our platform go only as far as adding a simple “terms and conditions” checkbox to their order forms.
Regardless of which option you choose, make sure the details are covered in writing.
In short, do what you say you’ll do
We all make mistakes — but having our head in the atmosphere can be a real hassle! When you operate a service, it’s your duty to keep client expectations realistic.
Do what you say you’ll do, avoid making promises you can’t keep, and you’ll be well on your way to running a profitable productized service agency.