Managing Expectations

One of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself as a working professional is learning how to manage client expectations. Because few things cause as much grief, heartache, and lost productivity to your workday as a disappointed client on the rampage.

Disappointment can be defined as expectations unfulfilled. The client thinks it is one way, you think it is another. And often it is the fault of an ill-prepared amateur who either over-promised or under-delivered.

So how do you guard against these potential scenarios? They say the best defense is a good offense. You start by being a pro yourself. Be great at what you do. Be punctual. Deliver what you promise, when you promised it. Communicate terms clearly and give status updates regularly. Nothing incites panic into a client faster than not knowing.

My brother-in-law of jokes with his sales clients by saying, “You can have it cheap, fast, or great. Pick two.”

Cheap + Fast = Junk
Fast + Great = Expensive
Great + Cheap = Slow, slow, slow

While most customers would prefer all three, by allowing them to choose the terms of the agreement, you let them manage their own expectations. And if there are ever any discrepancies, you can simply refer them back to (their own) agreement.

This method may not be right for your situation, but if you focus on creating clearer, up-front client agreements and managing expectations you will both be amazed at how much smoother projects will go.

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