8 Practical Ways to Manage Client and Customer Expectations—And Keep Everyone Happy

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Keeping up with client and customer expectations can be difficult at times, especially when your relationship is growing and evolving. It can sometimes feel like you’re treading water, but there are ways to make sure you and your clients are on the same page when it comes to goals and processes. To help you, we asked a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council members the following question:

Q. What is one practical way of keeping up with client or customer expectations? What advantages does this method offer?

1. Ask how your value will be graded

It is crucial to clarify with a client what a successful engagement looks like and how will they be assessing the value of the relationship. As a digital marketing agency, it is very easy to get pulled into secondary projects for clients that deviate from what they value, and it is crucial to know that you risk taking your eye away from what matters—the client’s expectation of you. —Matthew BardenIndustrial Marketing

2. Create a weekly action plan

We have weekly meetings with clients to go through weekly “action plans.” The meetings are 30 minutes—concise and to the point. The action plan contains the top action items for the week. It covers what our team is working on and what is needed from the client. If we can’t meet with the client, we send them the plan so they always know what is happening for that week. —Reb RistyREBL Marketing

3. Be proactive and share project road maps

In the client-services world, we’ve found that being proactive through regularly updated strategy and project road maps has been a great way to remain in front of shifting expectations. We’ve found that it casts an overall efficiency to our own output, and that sometimes our regimented process rubs off on partners to help them with their own workflow stability. —Justin MoodleyLASANAN

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4. Tailor communications

We provide reports that include deliverables, ROI, campaign data, and any pending items. This is a great way to track everything in a snapshot. We hold ongoing meetings as needed. With that being said, each client has a unique preferred communication style, so we tailor communications to that. Some prefer weekly, monthly, or just quarterly meetings. Some prefer to email as much as possible. —Angela DelmedicoElev8 Consulting Group

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5. Practice empathy

Clients have personal lives outside the work environment. Give them peace of mind by delivering quality services in a timely manner by “skating to where the puck is”—which means you have to already be there with the solution they were not expecting. Empathy puts you in the shoes of your client, increasing your sensitivity to their needs ahead of time. —Odin Liam WrightTRUE

 

6. Train your staff well

We train our staff to understand, anticipate, and help customers out when needed. And, we train them to always show empathy and confidence. If there are suggestions or better ways of doing things, we make note of it and assess if that aligns with our company mission. For the items and tasks that do, we make an effort to implement to better our process and improve customer satisfaction. —Jessica BakerAligned Signs

7. Lay out clear processes

To keep up with client expectations, create clearly laid-out processes. If it’s not in your contract, project management docs, sales onboarding, etc., then you’re not doing it right. Learn from client experiences and put in place or update your process. For example, we work on complex projects where clients sometimes feel lost. To fix this, we created custom client portals tailored to our process. —Ryan MeghdiesTastic Marketing Inc.

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8. Ask for their definition of success

Ask clients up front what a successful project looks like for them. People find a direct approach refreshing and it will give you something concrete to define success by. By asking up front about expected outcomes, clients know that someone is personally invested in what is important to them, which helps build trust. It’s much easier than trying to read their mind or stay two steps ahead of them! —Kristine NeilKristine Neil Studio

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