How to manage your clients' expectations

Brought to you by Reel Talk with Jason: Freelancing Made Easy

Making sure your clients are happy can boost your business. In this edition of Reel Talk with Jason Tiller, Rocketspark Head of Partnerships, we cover how to make sure your clients are on the same page as you right from the start, what you can do if they start to drift off course and how to let them go if you’ve met a wave too big to get over.

How can I make sure my client is on the same wavelength as me?

It all starts at the attraction stage. Making sure that you’ve qualified them to be a customer that you want to work with, someone you get on well with, someone you think has similar values and a similar understanding of the job at hand. 

But as the designer/freelancer it’s also your job to make sure that you are very clear in the requirements and the processes and timelines of how you work and what you’re going to deliver for them.

Building trust is really important, that is one of the most important things to focus on. Especially at the start of the process, briefing and then reverse briefing is a good way to do this. 

The initial brief is when you sit with the client and you create a brief together, it involves simple questions like, ‘what don’t you like about your current website?’. You take away the answers and digest them. You then go back with a reverse brief, which is the same thing, but worded slightly differently. It’s basically your opportunity to tell them what you think they need. If you get it right, great, if you get it wrong, also fine, because you haven’t embarked on anything yet and there’s still time to revise it. It’s a great trust building exercise.

What can I do if they drift off course?

There’s a few reasons why a client might start to drift off course. 

One is you might not be communicating particularly well with them. If you are having problems with communication or you find that you’re not getting the message across via email, pick up the phone. That’s my number one piece of advice to try and get stuff back on track. 

The disconnectedness of email can cause some interpretation problems or even exacerbate smaller issues. And, when you pick up the phone generally people are quite nice on the other end of it.

The other reason why people can stray is because they are busy. If they are really busy, think about how you can be more effectively organised to help them. For example, if you are waiting for feedback, give them some direction on where to look, ask what they think of the photography you’ve used, give them something to start with, be more specific.

How do I let them go if we’ve met a wave too big to get over?

This should be such a rare occurrence in your business life because you’re doing all the right steps to begin with. You’re building trust with your clients, showing them you know what you’re talking about, you’ve qualified them to be good people, they communicate well and pay on time, but sometimes these things happen.

If you get here, you need to be clear in your communication with them, make sure they understand your terms and conditions, make sure there is an exit clause in those and make sure it means that you get paid.

There is nothing worse than having to exit a job and not get paid for the 100s of hours of work you’ve already done. 

Let them know your working relationship is coming to an end, ‘this’ is what you’re going to do, they’ve paid up until ‘here/now’, if they haven’t paid, let them know you will transfer the assets to them as soon as they have. Then you can continue on with someone else. 

Make sure you’re professional about it, the industry is a small place and you don’t want it to come back in a bad way later on.