By Adrian Johansen

Image Source: Unsplash

What happens when a client brings in this Pinterest dream full of Photoshopped images and expects you to make a copy? This can be a challenging topic to tackle, as you want to make the best impression you can on a client. However, you can’t promise to hang the moon for them if you are entirely unable to meet their expectations.

If the dream of Pinterest suddenly becomes the focus, is there a way to manage client expectations? There is a way to get your service across and make sure clients understand what to expect from you. Just how?

Do you take down all your Pinterest inspiration boards? The answer is no, but you have to figure out what your audience wants, being honest, and knowing your limits. You have to be steady in

what you know you can provide and be honest that you cannot do things.

Know Your Audience

How can you provide a service or sell a product if you don’t know what your audience wants? The answer is you really can’t without losing out on potential clients, clients who if you are just starting up can either make or break your company.

If you don’t understand your clients’ needs, then you will forever be trying to chase client expectations. This is where using stakeholder mapping comes in handy. This tool is going to make all the difference between failing and success rates. The process helps you to define all the stakeholders in your business processes, which in turn, helps you define expectations for them.

You are going to want to engage with people and understand what they want. Remember, though, to listen to reasonable expectations rather than the out-there ones. The more positive feedback you receive about a project, the better it will do in the long run.

If you have a happy stakeholder with influence, then your project has a better chance of succeeding. The stakeholder will understand what people want from the start, and you get to meet client expectations easier.

Know Your Service

It sounds like this should be pretty obvious, doesn’t it? The truth is that if you are going into an industry; you need to know how your competitors use terminology and label products and services. Let’s take the beauty industry, for example.

If you have a vegan and cruelty-free product, you can’t just say that. There are plenty of products that say the same thing. What you need to do is be overly clear in what your product is going to be.

If, for example, you sell beauty products that vary from natural to vegan products. You have to make it very clear that natural does not equal vegan. The more specific you are, the better informed your customers will be when they make their purchases. Over-explaining is far better than under-explaining when it comes to services.

Be Honest from the Start

Being upfront about your business is going to help manage client expectations. They are going to know what to expect from you and what they can ask of you. Remember, it is better to underpromise and overdeliver than the other way around.

Being honest is going to get you a loyal client base. They are going to know what to expect from you. By being honest, the client is going to have to trust you and your vision.

Not only that, though, the client’s expectations are going to be more realistic, moving forward if you set them up with honesty from the start. Which, if you stick to your guns, you’ll be able to form a lasting relationship.

Honesty Tips

If you find yourself struggling with being honest with your clients or just not overselling yourself, it can be difficult to stop. What you need to be is upfront about how your photoshoots go or how you deliver products. Explain to your clients that images may not be replicated precisely.

What matters is that you are upfront about everything that is going on in your business. This doesn’t mean you have to spill company secrets but let clients know what is happening. If you are running short on a product, inform the customer.

Understand that you may not be able to live up to every customer’s ideal image of you. You are human, after all, and knowing that is key. That is going to be the difference between succeeding and failing.

First Impressions are Everything

If you are just starting your business, you need to understand that a first impression will set the mood for your company. If you are welcoming and willing to work with a client, then you are setting the tone for a good relationship. This means taking the time to talk to the clients that come in and get to know them.

Here are some ways you can make your first impression count:

  • Be authentic in your service.
  • Communicate with your clients.
  • Be honest about what you can and cannot provide.
  • Answer questions swiftly but honestly.
  • Don’t oversell yourself just to make a profit.

If you want to create a steady clientele with realistic expectations, you have to put the effort in. Your first impression is going to leave a lasting mark on the client, after all. People want to come back to a place they feel comfortable and valued.

Making sure you put effort into giving your client the best experience possible makes a good impression. Even if there is a mistake that happens, you can still save it. By fixing the problem to the best of your ability, you show that you care about your clients’ well being.

Be the Real You Not Pinterest You

Authenticity is going to be essential. If a client comes in and meets a real person who cares about them, it beats out anything on Pinterest. Showing that you have the wellbeing of your clients in mind will stand out in the long run.

When you take the time to understand what the client needs will beat out any social media picture out there, it shows that you are going the extra mile in making your client as happy as possible. Just remember to have realistic limitations, and you are going to be set.

No one wants to experience anything less than authentic. Remember, the reviews will tell potential other clients this as well. You want to be as authentic as possible without creating this experience you can’t provide.

Know Your Limits

Do not oversell yourself! Know what you can do and how you can provide that service. If you can’t do what you promised, you will have an unhappy client on your hands.

Let’s say you run a tattoo shop, for example. You wouldn’t promise you could do a specific art style if you have never done it before. You would refer them to another artist in your shop or simply tell them that you aren’t able to do that task.

Or you could be running your own bakery. Displaying your products and rates is a way to show your limits rather than just telling your clients. They can see any potential limitations upfront and ask clarifying questions if they have them.

Understand Timing

It seems simple, but don’t forget that your service is going to require time. Make sure you have enough time set aside for not only the service but discussion time. Getting a clear idea across is going to make your life more comfortable in the long run.

Know that your time is money. Remember to factor that into how you explain your service and pricing for your service. Quality is going to take time, and you have to let your customers know that. Good things take time, and when you make that clear, then everything should be smooth sailing.

Clients should fully understand this. It is one reason contacts come into play as well. By having your clients sign a contract stating they understand that your work takes time, they will know when to expect it should be finished.

Communication is Necessary

Talk to your clients.

It is as simple as that. Talk to your clients and figure out what they need or want out of your service. However, you need to be honest about what you can and cannot do. By having this in place, you and your team will be headed towards the same goal.

Communication is a tool for success. It means involving your client in the process. Make communication your top priority as it will not only show you care, but any problems can be brought forward before they grow. Having the communication problems that occur are likely to be resolved more effortlessly than if they escalate.

Don’t be afraid to set a time to talk to your client. Not only will you get their input, but you can also clarify any issues that you may be having. It will help you and your client stay on the same page without setting expectations too high.

Clarify Everything

You are human, and that means there are things that you cannot do. Make sure that what you can do and what you say match up. Nothing is going to be worse than setting up the expectations of a failure.

In the same sense, make sure your client understands that there are things you cannot do. This isn’t just about the end product either. Ensure that you do extra calls or meetups to clarify that to your customer, so they aren’t surprised.

It may seem tedious and pointless to have to go through every step, but it will help your client’s expectations in the long run. They will feel like you can do your job, and the outcome will be something they enjoy. It also means that there will be no nasty surprise at the end of the arrangement.

Customer Ratings Are Everything

If you want to know how you are doing, check your customer ratings. Customers are going to let you know if something you did wasn’t up to their expectations. Maybe they aren’t going to love everything you do but what you can do is learn from it.

If you are a salon owner, keep up to date on all the latest hairstyles to make your clients happy. A spa owner should look into what is making waves in the industry to offer clients the best day possible.

Understand that you cannot make everyone happy, though. There are going to be people out there who find flaws in anything and everything you do. If you have 1 out of 10 clients disliking your service, don’t go out of your way to change everything for that one person.

Be a Boss with Client Expectations

Once you have everything down with your communication skills, collaborative skills, and how to make an excellent first impression, you will be set. Don’t forget that you will always be learning about how to make things better for everyone involved.

Go out there and take control of your client’s expectations while running a successful business.

Author Bio

Adrian Johansen Johansen is a writer and lifelong learner in the Pacific Northwest. She loves to be a part of discussions of how businesses can continuously improve and move forward. You can find more of her writing on twitter.

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