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Ways to manage client expectations effectively: seeing it from the client’s perspective

client expectations,manage client expectations,ways to manage,deliverable,build trust,set expectations,strategies to manage client expectations,scope of work,expectations about how you work,honesty and transparency,over-promise,under-deliver,clients from the start
Are you meeting your client’s expectations when they send you a design request?

If somebody tells you ALL their clients are angels and they’re always happy to have them, they’re probably not telling the truth.

Yes, every client is important to us. We build good relationships with our clients, and we want to give them the best designs to help their businesses.

If our customers are happy, we will also be happy!

But it can get a bit annoying sometimes.

I manage hundreds of customers at Deer Designer, so I know.

Every customer has different needs and wants. It’s a huge challenge to maintain good relationships and meet all these expectations.

No matter how hard you try to please clients, you cannot read their minds, and they cannot read yours either.

You might think the relationship is going well, but at some point, there will be misunderstandings, and they might want things you cannot give them.

This is especially true in our field because design is subjective. What we believe to be great might not be the same in our clients’ eyes.

So how do you manage what customers expect and keep them happy?

Keep reading, and we’ll give you some tips!

Understanding difficult clients

Someone being “difficult” is all about perspective.

When you start to think about things from the client’s perspective, they have their own issues when working with designers too!

You have to think about why a client is being this way.

For example, it is common for new clients to be difficult to deal with as they don’t trust you yet and may not understand your workflow.

Here are some common reasons why clients may be difficult:

Unrealistic expectations about how you work

When you fail to set realistic expectations upfront, you can’t fault your clients for having unrealistic expectations.

Starting with the client onboarding process, you should be able to manage expectations and be clear on what you can and can’t do.

A common mistake people make is to overpromise and underdeliver.

You gotta remember that your work doesn’t end the moment the client signs up for your service; you have to meet their expectations to keep them.

When your client knows what project scopes you can handle and the estimated timeline for these deliverables from the start, they can decide whether or not you are the right fit for them.

Promising too much in the beginning will just waste everyone’s time.

You will end up doing work for a client who will just leave and maybe even ask you for a refund.

Multiple revisions

Clients often have to request multiple revisions on their designs.

Sometimes it’s because of things we can’t control, like when they change their minds about certain design decisions or when new details about an event or promotion have to be updated.

However, a lot of these revisions happen when designers literally don’t pay attention.

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Clients may feel like you are not listening to their feedback.

This is very frustrating for clients, especially if they feel like their feedback wasn’t understood or applied correctly.

Sometimes clients provide specific instructions that are overlooked or ignored.

Our clients rely on us to notice and fix those things without having to explain them over and over again.

This lack of attention to detail makes us look very amateur or unprofessional.

Other than upsetting our clients, when these small details are missed, it can also cause delays and extra work.

Inconsistent communication

The key to building any lasting relationship is to have consistent communication.

As we are constantly worrying about deliverables and timeframes, it is easy to forget to communicate with our clients.

But what if you are working on a complex project that can take months to finish?

Will you wait until the deadline to communicate with every client?

If you were the client, would you be okay with this month of silence?

What if, as a client, you sent a comment or reminder and it just went unanswered?

Will you still trust that supplier?

When clients feel like they’re not being properly updated or that their concerns are not being addressed ASAP, it can lead to complaints.

This is why it is important to establish regular communication with clients.

You don’t have to wait until you have deliverables to send before giving an update.

Simply tell them how the project is progressing, that their comments have been noted, if any issues may arise, and if you are still able to meet deadlines.

This helps the client set clear expectations, and likewise, you can rest assured that the client is still with you and waiting for you to finish the project.

How you can set expectations and exceed them

While you want to manage customer expectations and set realistic goals, you also want to exceed these expectations.

When you under-promise and over-deliver, clients feel like they are getting more value than what they are paying for.

Other than helping raise your customer retention, these people with good client experiences are more likely to recommend you to others.

Here are some ways you can exceed your client’s expectations:

Define your scope of work and set clear timelines for deliverables

The first step to exceeding expectations is to set them up in the first place.

Let your clients know your scope of work and how long it usually takes to finish specific tasks.

This way, the client knows exactly what they can request and sets goals for how soon they will be finished.

This helps you avoid scope creep, or when the scope of your project becomes wider than what was originally agreed upon.

Unreasonable expectations come with undefined or vague agreements, so it is best to be specific and write all of these down.

It’s better to under-promise, especially with deadlines, so you have time for any revisions and know that all the goals you set are achievable.

Guide your client from the start

Do you often complain about clients not knowing how to write briefs or sending you confusing feedback?

That may be because they don’t know how to do these things in the first place!

Give them guides and examples on how they can use your service better.

Here are some guides you can make:

  • What projects and tasks can they request from your company?
  • Using your project management tools or design software efficiently
  • What to include in a design brief
  • Where to look for examples and inspirations for design projects
  • How to give feedback so that designers can understand better
  • Where can they contact you if they have any concerns or requests?

Not only does this help your clients understand your workflow better, but it also helps you get better design briefs and feedback from them.

Double-check your work

Small details do make a big difference.

Don’t forget to double-check your work before sending it to clients, especially if you are working on a revision.

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Always make sure you are sending high-quality work.

Before sending it, compare your work with the brief to make sure it’s a match (and that it’s completed).

Pay more attention to what the client is saying, read the brief, or ask another designer or team leader when in doubt.

Honesty and transparency

Being honest and transparent when communicating with your client is often more important than being good at your work.

What’s the point in sending great design work if it doesn’t match what the client wants and if they are constantly worried that you won’t submit your work on time?

When sending client updates, write your notes as if you’re talking directly with them.

Tell them why you did what you did, explain the reason behind changing some of their instructions (if you think it won’t work), and let them know what’s still to come (so they don’t keep asking).

Remember: clients can’t read your minds either!

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Have constant communication with your clients to keep them updated.

It’s best to keep the client informed throughout the whole ticket.

These updates help build trust and confidence, so your clients can rely more on you over time.

Build trust by staying consistent

Keeping clients happy doesn’t end with just one project.

Every project has to be delivered consistently.

Inconsistent quality (or style) can be confusing to the clients, and it just leads to more rounds of revisions.

Imagine if you asked a person to send you exactly the same project as last time, but they gave you a completely different result.

How will you trust them after that?

If your style is constantly changing, it will look like you are handing over another designer’s work (or that you have a double personality).

Stay reliable and consistent so the clients can have clearly defined expectations about how you work.

Strategies to manage client expectations

We know you work hard and are dedicated in your field, but your client may not think that especially if they don’t know you yet.

Good client management is what lets companies with higher retention keep their clients happy.

By managing expectations well, keeping open communication through emails or phone calls, and keeping your work consistent, you can foster a healthy relationship with your clients from the start.

Are you looking for designs that go above and beyond your client’s expectations?

Raise the quality of your design work by outsourcing to Deer Designer!

Book a client-fit call today.

Key takeaways

  • It is impossible to have no misunderstandings and immediate customer success right from the start. It is all about perspective and building trust.
  • When you deliver inconsistent work, don’t have clear communication, and have unrealistic expectations, you’re more likely to get “difficult” clients. From your client’s perspective, you’re showing red flags and are not trustworthy.
  • In setting client expectations, it’s always better to under-promise instead of under-deliver. This way, you are letting a client know what they can expect and when without forcing your team to push themselves too hard.
  • Great client management starts with creating guides for your client to understand their role in every stage of the project. This is the best way to build realistic goals and foster a long-lasting business relationship.
  • Always put everything in writing, including the design brief, revision requests, and any design decisions you make for the project. This helps everyone keep track of what has been requested and what has been done.
  • Being honest and transparent is even more important when you are at the beginning of your relationship and your client doesn’t know if they can trust you yet. Always have regular communication and keep your client updated.
  • Incosistent work can lead to more revisions, wasted resources and time, and unhappy clients.