How To Manage Client Expectations

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Sometimes, clients can’t always get what they want. They may have unrealistic expectations, don't have the budget that matches their vision or they need a service you don't provide.

Either way, this puts you in the awkward position of saying no to a client. Not ideal. Not for either party; which depending on the ask could put a profitable relationship at risk.

Here are a few ways you can walk the line between client vision and reality.

Set Clear, Achievable Objectives

Do this before you start. They should match up to the pitch, the tone of every conversation and email, every exchange should be straight down the line from day one. Selling, even hinting at delivering a result you can’t is a sure fire way to fail.

In order to impress a client, lowball expectations. Set targets which you know you can exceed. Under promising and over delivering is the best way to impress clients, consistently.

Eliminate Project Creep

Time spent on projects often ebbs and flows within agencies. Starting strong in the first few weeks and months, when both parties are full of enthusiasm, can soon turn into resentful grumblings when project creep drags down efficiency.

Some delays are inevitable. Plans change. Especially once they encounter reality; that can result in disheartening project creep. Adjust for this in advance. Make sure clients fully appreciate realistic timescales.

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Keep In Contact

Clients can feel neglected when relations aren't managed. Unrealistic ideas or concerns can hit you unexpectedly when you aren’t keeping them in the loop.

The key is to get to know their preferred point of contact, and then touch base as often as needed. Leave them in no doubt they’re getting good value from your teams work, which might also help you avoid them “checking in,” which is a sign they’re concerned. More consistent contact will keep concerns low and expectations on track.

Find Someone Who Can Deliver

What happens when you encounter that awkward moment when a client needs something that your agency can’t deliver. Go find someone, another agency or freelancer, who can.

Which isn't to say you should hand over your client to another firm. So long as they have the budget, then you could find a service provider who will be perfect for what they want. Not only will you exceeded expectations, but you should manage the relationship so you stay front and centre with the client.

Get To Know The Client

This is partly what #3 is about. Keep in contact, but take this further. Make sure you fully understand a client, their business model, aims, objectives, who their customer / audience is. As well as fully understanding why they need you to deliver this project: how this fits into the overall game plan.

The more you know the better.

Clients can’t always get what they want. Not all campaigns score huge wins and awards; not all clients have the budget for everything they want. But give them what they need; keep them happy, consistently deliver great work, and at the same time, ensure they’re fully in the loop with what you are trying to achieve for them.

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Posted by Jerome Iveson