Every business wants to offer top-notch service to its customers. Whether it’s an unworkable project or a tight deadline, you have to be prepared to handle a client who expects more than what you can provide.
In the construction industry, contractors are used to dealing with demanding clients. To manage them, they arm themselves with excellent customer service skills to avoid disputes down the line. Some even pursue contractor license continuing education to hone their skills and serve their clients better.
Clients with unrealistic expectations are some of the most difficult people to handle. In this article, we’ll talk about ways to manage them and ensure a successful relationship.
Be Honest and Transparent
Being honest from the very beginning is important in handling client expectations. You have to approach every situation with utmost clarity, candor, and transparency when offering advice or suggestions based on their professional and personal objectives. This provides clients a clear set of options to choose from, a basic rule when it comes to providing excellent customer service.
Before taking on any project, set out the rules first so you and the client will decide on the agreed process together. If there’s something you can’t guarantee, inform the client immediately. Sometimes, it’s better to overdeliver and underpromise. Keep in mind that most clients have no idea how the creative process goes, so use this chance to talk about specific outcomes and what you cannot promise. After all, there are plenty of unpredictable things when doing business.
Informing clients about the next steps or what to expect from you and the company will help both of you arrive at a firm resolution. It’s also important to be transparent if you need more time to think about the next strategy or inform your entire staff about the changes.
It’s also necessary to define the limitations of the project. The client should be aware that some aspects of the project (e.g., scope or timeline) are bound to change as the work progresses. You can present case studies of previous projects in which plans changed before they finish. Use them as examples to discuss how you plan to meet their goal amid revisions.
Being honest and addressing problems before they happen are good strategies, but they won’t work out if you can’t communicate clearly with the client. Marketing agencies are particularly good at handling client consultations and interactions. Still, if you want to manage client expectations well, you have to step up your game than simply keeping your lines open. In other words, everyone needs to be on the same page.
You can start by making communication your priority. This won’t only update the client about the progress but also address and fix problems or concerns before they worsen. If the client is doubtful about the progress, you can make adjustments right away so you can respond to the issue and manage their expectations.
Consider setting an appointment every week to discuss the progress with the client. Client meetings are a great way to improve your relationship with them and detect issues before they arise to avoid unpleasant surprises for both of you.
Anticipate Client Requirements
You can’t always guarantee, but you can take steps to predict a client’s requirements. This means being one step ahead before they figure out their preference and expectations. Knowing how the process works and presenting concerns from the get-go will send a message to the client how well-prepared you are in serving them.
Anticipation helps in planning unplanned situations that can get in the way. But it’s important to never over assume, especially without concrete evidence. If your client has a hard time explaining their requirements, just listen well and guide them by asking relevant questions, then finish the discussion with a detailed recap.
Set the Objectives
It’s easy to manage client expectations when you establish boundaries and objectives. Before the job kicks off, you and your client should have the same end goal in mind.
Although it can be tempting to say “yes” to whatever the client says, constantly agreeing with them can lead to unrealistic expectations. If their expectations are causing problems or disruptions, you can always say “no” and follow up with a suggestion or explanation to help them understand the situation. At the same time, the client should be aware of how your company functions. Expectations are easier to handle if the client knows how everyone works and each person’s role.
Handling customers with unrealistic expectations is part of doing business. While you cannot always choose which type of customers to work with, you can always take steps to provide them with excellent service. Use this as an opportunity to improve your customer service skills and understand a variety of customers’ needs.