As a creative entrepreneur, business owner or freelancer, one of the most critical things that you will ever do is exceed your clients expectations. That can be a very difficult thing to pull off when everybody around you has their own different vision. However, today we will be covering the precise steps for you to take in order to accomplish this.
The same thing is true when it comes to business. Whenever a customer is not satisfied with a specific service, usually it is due to the fact that what they were expecting was much different than what they ended up receiving. When it comes to expectations, the tough part about it is that a majority of individuals are not very good at communicating them. It is something that can quickly lead to conflict in client relationships. If you have your own business that you operate, maybe this is something that you have experienced. You might have had to deal with a client who appeared to expect for you to have the ability to read their mind. How is it even possible to please those kinds of individuals?
The reality is, when you are a business owner, all of your customers or clients, even the most relaxed and nice ones, will have preexisting assumptions. That is just basic human nature for you. That is why it is so critical for you to deliberately and systematically learn everything you can about how people’s expectations can be managed. When you can shape the understanding that your clients have of the services you provide, it will give you the ability to better ensure that their experiences are positive ones.
However, it’s difficult just managing our own expectations. So how in the world will we be able to determine how we can manage somebody else’s expectations? If this is a skill you would like to master, the following are a couple of key ways of getting there:
It is important, from the very start, to be abundantly clear what the Cans and Cannots are of what you are offering. For example, if one of your clients asks you to get something designed in one day that would normally take a week, then it is better to be honest, and admit that timing could be a problem for you. Although expressing your limitations might seem like it is a counter-intuitive thing to do, it is much better than leading on clients so that they think you are some kind of superhero who is capable of doing anything and everything. So in terms of setting expectations, the best thing to do is under promise and over deliver at all times.
Communicate is your job depends on it (by the way, it actually does)
Accessibility is the most important service that you can provide to a client. One of the things they are actually paying for is to have the peace of mind of being able to contact you with any concerns or questions they might have without needing to wait several weeks to get an answer. However, let’s admit it: whenever life gets crazy, one of the first things that has a tendency to fall through the cracks is communication. Your first priority is to return phone calls and respond to emails quickly. When you communicate consistently with clients it helps to build up trust and make them feel they are in the loop.
You are the branding specialist/ the coder/ the writer/ the designer, etc. Whatever you happen to do, most likely you are an expert. However, it is important to ensure that you do really understand what it is that your client wants prior to becoming involved with their creative vision. Before you strategize on a project, get a survey or series of questions prepared. Ask about dislikes, likes, brand messaging, timeline, budget – anything that could have an impact on how your client is going to feel ultimately about what the finished product is.
Outline the project with your client and come to an agreement on the timeline. Or what is even better is to get phases created within your timeline. That will help to keep your client as well as yourself accountable for the entire process. It all provides reference points to you that can be checked off.
You will win lots of gold stars with this one. As you work on a project, keeping your client apprised of everything that is going on is very important to do. Even if they aren’t asking for you to provide them with a detailed report, sending a quick email containing bullet points of everything you’ve been working on can be very helpful. For one thing it assures them you aren’t wasting time (or their money). Second of all, it let them feel as if they part of the entire process. Third of all, it relieves you of any liability in the future. If confusion comes up later, you can always refer to your weekly or daily report.
If you’d like your client to really feel well taken care of during the entire process, then put yourself in the customer’s shoes. How would you like to be treated? When collaborating with somebody, what things do you appreciate? What about things that you don’t appreciate? Has there ever been a situation where you had a professional not meet what your expectations are? Let previous experiences you have help you anticipate your client’s desires and needs. Ultimately, it is about treating other people how you want to be treated. So be awesome, be honest, be patient, be nice. Basically, be a decent person, and go do some incredible work.