Why setting clear expectations is crucial for good client relationships
As a new business owner, you will be very tempted to try to please everyone by being extremely accommodating and flexible. Although this shows exceptional customer service this can easily be a recipe for disaster. I’m not perfect, I’ve made a lot of mistakes that came from not setting clear expectations and boundaries with my clients. I’ve definitely learned from all of these experiences and will keep on learning as my business grows.
That’s why you should be setting clear expectations since the very beginning and stick to them.
BE CLEAR ABOUT YOUR OFFICE HOURS
When I was first starting out, I made the mistake of being extremely available to my clients. I was being very accommodating and would answer emails at odd hours of the day as well as on weekends.
Although I saw this as a blessing because I knew my clients were satisfied that I would respond quickly, it turned into a curse. My clients would expect me to be responding at odd hours of the day, so I found myself working when I wasn’t supposed to.
I do want to mention I have always had a Client Intro Packet that I send to all of my clients at the beginning of our partnership. My office hours are clearly stated there but I wasn’t even respecting my own hours so how could I expect my clients to do as well?
Learning from this has allowed me to set clear expectations with clients. If I get an email at a random hour of the day my clients will be assured that they will hear from me when I’m in the office Monday through Friday from 9AM – 10PM excluding weekends.
This has truly helped me have a more balanced life and I don’t feel so overwhelmed answering emails at all hours of the day.
BEST METHOD OF CONTACTING YOU
We’ve all received that text from a client asking you a question about work. If you want email to be your main point of contact, the worst mistake you can do is reply with the answer to their question or comment because that will open a gateway that texting is ok.
Instead of answering their question or comment kindly reply by saying “Hello, thank you for reaching out! Could you please shoot me a quick email regarding this and I will respond as soon as I’m in the office.”
I also had this happen in my online business, but I’ve learned from my experience and I know how to handle it now.
Since there’s so many ways people can reach out to you nowadays it’s extremely important to set those expectations since the beginning. I can’t even count how many Instagram DM’s & Facebook messages I’ve gotten! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about it because it makes me more accessible to people but setting those clear expectations since the beginning is crucial. Now, every time I get a message, or DM I will quickly send them the same message as above “Hello, thank you for reaching out! Could you please shoot me a quick email regarding this and I will respond as soon as I’m in the office.”
BE CLEAR ABOUT THE PROJECT SCHEDULE
Being clear about the project schedule and what you expect from each client and what they should expect from you will keep your client relationship in good shape.
Once we enter a new phase in the project timeline I will email my clients with a detailed explanation of the next steps and what I expect from them and what they should expect from me.
It’s important to have everything outlined in your client agreement but as a good practice I will email my clients reminding them of how many revisions are allowed, what happens if I don’t hear from them in a couple of days, extra fees etc.
A contract is a great thing to fall back on if needed but to be quite honest most clients won’t read through your whole contract or will most likely forget 90% of the details that were in there. For that reason, it’s extremely important to remind your clients about your process, expectations and boundaries.
There’s a ton of other things that you could do to set clear expectations and have happy clients but it’s all a learning lesson. Don’t let one little hiccup along the way break you down. Learn from it and keep moving forward. I will most likely still make mistakes along the way but it’s how you handle those situations and learn from them.