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Agencies: The Importance of Managing Client Expectations

Client-ExpectationsOne of the most important parts of running an agency is maintaining a good relationship with clients—otherwise nothing will get done (and no one will get paid).

However, not every agency-client relationship is perfect. Sometimes, clashing personalities, a lapse in communication, or a failure to manage client expectations can cause the relationship to fall apart.

Setting your agency up for success starts from the beginning of the onboarding process. Below, we’ve outlined three ways you can manage your client’s expectations throughout the entire relationship—to help you avoid filing for a divorce.

Three Ways to Manage Client Expectations

1. Align Goals When Onboarding

When first onboarding your client, it’s important to understand their goals to verify if they align with your agency’s capabilities.

Why is onboarding so important? Well, it:

  • Maps out a path so everyone knows his or her responsibilities.
  • Helps manage client expectations.
  • Reduces scope creep.
  • Enables agencies to demonstrate value early in the relationship.

So, before performing your happiest of dances when landing a new client, take a step back and make sure that you and the client are on the same page.

2. Agree In Writing

Once you’ve reached an agreement with the client, get it in writing. This is one of the most important steps to setting client expectations (and maintaining those expectations).

Your contract should include the following points:

  • How often your agency intends to contact the client.
  • The services your agency will provide, along with a detailed description of each.
  • Milestone dates for when projects are predicted to finish.
  • You agency’s payment terms (and penalties).
  • A statement of ownership and rights.
  • The cancellation procedure in the event your client chooses to terminate a project.

This written document will help your agency establish expectations and protect against additional requests not included in the contract—plus it will come in handy for any future misunderstandings with the client.

3. Deliver Great Work

This is a no-brainer, but it bears repeating: Always be consistent with your work. When in doubt, it’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver (rather than the other way around). This helps set your client’s expectations—and even exceed them.

Tip: Maintain a good communication style with your client to understand and regularly evaluate their expectations. Keep in mind that it’s okay to ask questions, or clarify uncertainties to ensure that your team is delivering exactly what the client requests.  

Managing your client’s expectations will bring happiness (and sanity) to your agency and your client. Start setting expectations at the beginning of your relationship, and continue managing them throughout your partnership. Once you and the client are in total agreement, you can resume your happy dance.

How does your agency manage client expectations? Share your tips in our comments section below!

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Image Source: Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig via Flickr