One of the biggest challenges service-based businesses face is setting and managing client expectations. It’s important to be realistic about what you can and can’t do for your clients, and ensure that both parties understand the scope and terms of your service agreement. To find out more, we asked the experts at Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) for their thoughts on this question:
“Client expectations make all the difference when it comes to satisfaction: Having everyone on the same page on what the process — and result — will be like can mean the difference between lost business and a life-long brand ambassador. What is your preferred method for managing client expectations? Why does this process work?”
Here’s what YEC community members had to say:
“We state our boundaries up front — including our cancellation policy and client policies. We use the same language across all platforms when booking a client over the phone, sending a confirmation or reminder email, as well as on our website. This manages their expectations from the start.” ~ Rachel Beider, Massage Outpost
“Clients appreciate full transparency. If a client has to come to you with a problem, then you’ve already lost far greater margins in satisfaction than if you are able to provide clear reasoning for why their dissatisfaction has taken place or fixed any errors ahead of time. Getting ahead of a problem can even become a point of praise when they promote your business to others.” ~ Michael Hsu, DeepSky
“To successfully manage client expectations, it’s critical to have a great “kickoff” meeting when an engagement begins. This allows to you discuss the scope of work, set expectations, and begin to develop trust and rapport. Moving forward, it’s critical to have ongoing scheduled communication with the client to receive feedback, troubleshoot and discuss results.” ~ Antonio Neves, THINQACTION Inc.
“To make sure you and your clients are on the same page, you have to have a discussion about what your expectations are and get them all down on paper. That way, as things progress or projects are completed, those expectations cannot change. It is all there in writing. Transparency is king.” ~ Colbey Pfund, LFNT Distribution
“We practice an onboarding process for clients just as we do with hires: We set expectations, answer any questions and deliver all primary contact information they’ll need to reach us during our time working with them. By setting up the foundation for a successful partnership, there will be less confusion and miscommunication in the long run, prompting clients to work with us again in the future.” ~ Stanley Meytin, True Film Production
“It’s always best to be upfront when managing client expectations. Paint a picture for your clients about the strategy, tactics and pitfalls. In my industry of digital marketing, many clients come to me expecting that digital marketing will make them a millionaire overnight. I have to be very clear on the first call that this will be a long game to get to where they want to be.” ~ Jean Ginzburg, Jean Ginzburg.com
“Instead of approaching the conversation in the context of “client and vendor,” we push for “partnership” instead. Leaving the clichés aside, a partnership establishes direct return on investment expectations spread across both parties. We talk short-term and long-term goals, strategize together and share a portion of the risk. While riskier, it builds a stronger bond of trust and commitment.” ~ Mario Peshev, DevriX
“We send our customers emails on a consistent basis asking them for feedback on our products. Ask them questions such as what they like most about the product and what new features they would like added. This will help you prioritize new features and you can let them know when the feature is added. Customers will feel valued when they see you implementing features they requested.” ~ Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
“For my social media marketing, I worked with all kinds of people, from influencers, to politicians, to many entrepreneurs. Helping them gain influence and grow their brand is all about numbers on how many followers they expect to gain. I present the minimum expected growth they’ll get at first. Then at the end, I overdeliver the actual results that exceed their expectations.” ~ Fritz Colcol, ABN Circle
“We do our best to set expectations and surface useful information in a dashboard that our customers can use, all in the hopes of ensuring alignment and follow-through. But nothing is as powerful as an in-person business review. When you sit face-to-face, you’re able to get more honest feedback and work as strategic partners on how to improve.” ~ Aaron Schwartz, Passport
“Sales teams are motivated to sell, but overpromising quickly sours client relationships, especially for technical services that the client depends on. The solution is to ensure that sales people understand the technology and its use cases — or, at the least, have a technical expert in the room during sales meetings.” ~ Vik Patel, Future Hosting
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