Clients drive me crazy.
They don’t seem to think, act or communicate like regular people with even a bit of respect. And it’s hard to know what they expect?
That’s the personal side of me talking and in reality it doesn’t matter what I think or feel. We’re in a service business, we’re for hire and it’s our job to let our clients know what to expect, and don’t give ‘em any unpleasant surprises.
On a recent project I stepped way out of my comfort zone and
outsourced (which we normally don’t do) a majority of the grunt work to another firm and for the first time in a long time I was the client.
It seemed that the tables were turned. I was the one with the short answers, the one with a lack of excitement, the picky one, the one to tear apart all of the work that was delivered for my approval. Halfway through this grueling process I realized that as the client, my expectations were not being met. Certain things that I expected were not happening the way I expected them to happen, let alone the actual process. It was all wrong.
I found myself making excuses to my client and being very frustrated with my vendor. We were missing milestones, they were not available when I wanted to talk, and “the team” they assembled was a loose knit group of virtual artists without a hands-on person running point.
The project did not proceed as I thought it would or should proceed. It actually made me quite frustrated to think that as the client, I had so many let downs during one project. I was not getting what I expected.
What were my clients thinking? Were they frustrated? Was the project proceeding in a way that they thought it should? This unfortunate experience really made me sit back and realize how important managing client expectations really are.
We’re in the business of providing creative services. It’s such a touchy feely sounding business, and I like to think that I have my hand on the pulse of what my client thinks and how they expect the experience should be. If I don’t, well then, we end up with clients that are frustrated, confused, and have unmet expectations, which often leads to no repeat business.
There are of course professional standards, best practices, and business ethics and we try to follow the best we can. But sometimes in these days of flying by the seat of our pants speed in which business is conducted, some of these standards go out the window.
This is why properly managing client expectations is so important to a smooth operation. I like to think of it like as the ready, set, go of a sprint race.
- First, you get warmed up by communicating with your client how the work process will go
- Then, you get into the starting block and let them know what to expect
- When the gun goes off, you kick it down the track and delivery another win for them
By the way, the project turned out fine. I ended up working some nights and weekends managing and assembling the project. It also took a bit of effort managing my client’s expectations mostly because we did not sufficiently get ready and set before we started to go.