12 Tips About Managing Client Expectations You Can’t Afford to Miss

12 Tips for Managing New Client Expectations

Working with a new client is always stressful. Often, that is because you are still getting a feel for each other, and neither knows what to expect from the other yet. However, managing client expectations is critical in any business relationship. As such, you each have to get to know each other and find out what the expectations are early on.

For clients that are best described as overbearing or a bit on the needy side (or both!), it can prove to be a strenuous relationship that is filled with problems from the very start. Getting these issues in check early on is important to salvaging the relationship and ensuring that you are able to work together for the long haul. That’s why we asked 12 entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following:

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“How can businesses effectively manage client expectations early in a relationship?”

Here’s a word from GoDaddy about how to manage client expectations and set boundaries:

Why it’s Essential to Manage Client Expectations

Managing client expectations isn’t just a nicety; it’s a fundamental aspect of ensuring successful, long-lasting business relationships. Properly setting and navigating these expectations from the outset can prevent misunderstandings, foster trust, and lay the foundation for collaboration and growth. Here’s why it’s so crucial:

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  • Clear Communication: Setting clear expectations from the start ensures that both parties are on the same page, minimizing the potential for confusion or misinterpretation down the line.
  • Mutual Respect: By understanding and respecting each other’s boundaries and requirements, both the client and service provider can work in a harmonious environment, nurturing a bond of mutual respect.
  • Efficiency and Productivity: With clear expectations, both parties can align their efforts towards shared goals, making the collaboration more efficient and productive.
  • Conflict Prevention: Addressing expectations early on reduces the chance of conflicts, disagreements, and potential roadblocks in the future.
  • Trust-building: When clients know what to expect and see those expectations met, it builds trust and confidence in the business relationship, paving the way for further collaboration and potential referrals.

Managing New Client Expectations

managing client expectations - client and entrepreneur

Before you get too deeply into the list, here’s a concise table you can easily reference:

Set Clear DeliverablesProvide a detailed list of deliverables with realistic deadlines.Duran Inci, Optimum7
Be AuthenticAvoid fluff in proposals. Be transparent about challenges and potential of the relationship.Shawn Schulze, Names.org
Establish Regular CommunicationUnderstand clients' preferred communication channel and frequency.Angela Ruth, Calendar
Personally Get to Know ThemUnderstand client's values, goals, and interests to establish a strong relationship.Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
Always Sign a ContractUse contracts to detail expectations, eliminating miscommunications.Kate Hancock, OC Facial Care Center
Set Realistic ExpectationsClearly outline and deliver on realistic expectations to prevent disappointments.Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker
Be TransparentShare stories of past client relationships to establish mutual understanding and responsibilities.Peter Kozodoy, GEM Advertising
Be HonestProvide clear, itemized lists and be upfront from the beginning.Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now
Ask the Client About Specific GoalsDive deep into client's vision of success. Enhance through in-person visits for meaningful dialogue.Douglas Baldasare, ChargeItSpot
Think Like the CustomerAnticipate the client's needs and concerns, even if unexpressed.Cynthia Johnson, Bell + Ivy
Don't Be Afraid to Walk AwayEnsure clarity on deliverables, and be prepared to reiterate or terminate the relationship if necessary.Philip Michael, NYEG
Have a Client Kick-Off MeetingBegin with a comprehensive kick-off meeting to set clear deliverables and expectations.Derek Broman, deguns.net

In a business world where relationships can make or break success, managing client expectations becomes not just a strategy but a necessity. So, how can businesses effectively address these expectations? Let’s explore these insights from the expert members at the YEC community:

1. Set Clear Deliverables

“Send your client a highly detailed list of deliverables that contain realistic deadlines for each line item. Review these deliverables with your client one by one and answer any questions they may have prior to moving forward with the project. This will ensure that both you and your client are on the same page and share the same expectations.” ~ Duran Inci, Optimum7

2. Be Authentic

“There’s too much fluff in most business proposals. People love to overpromise, so be authentic, talk to the client about what you are willing to do for them, and what you hope to achieve from the relationship and be transparent about the challenges and obstacles involved. An honest assessment of the potential (and challenges) of the relationship is more effective and sets realistic expectations.” ~ Shawn Schulze, Names.org

3. Establish Regular Communication

managing client expectations - team communicating with each other and client

“Start with good ways to communicate and reach out to each other on a regular basis to stay on top of expectations and perspectives about how the relationship is going. That means asking clients how they want to communicate and how often. Using the channel they like is a great way to start it.” ~ Angela Ruth, Calendar

4. Personally Get to Know Them

“Personally getting to know the client and showing you’re a real human can really help you develop a strong business relationship. Understanding their values, goals, struggles and interests as a person can help you figure out how to work with them, what expectations to set and easily knock down any boundaries early on. This will transfer over to your business relationship and lead to success.” ~ Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

5. Always Sign a Contract

“Drafting a contract prints in detail what the expectations are of the client and the business supplying the service. Having such details in writing eliminates any miscommunication and makes it easier for both parties to understand the terms of the agreement.” ~ Kate Hancock, OC Facial Care Center

6. Set Realistic Expectations

“Expectations must be outlined accurately in the beginning, and then both parties need to deliver on them. The best way to manage or exceed expectations is to make sure they are grounded in reality. These discussions need to be had early on. If a client expects something that is impossible, you are setting them up for disappointment.” ~ Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker

7. Be Transparent

managing client expectations - clear expectations

“Over time, you’ll develop a list of reasons why your client relationships go wrong. Now, we make it a habit of sharing some of those stories transparently to illustrate how and why we might fail. That way, prospects understand that they have a role in achieving our common goals, and that shared understanding helps lay the groundwork for an honest, transparent relationship going forward.” ~ Peter Kozodoy, GEM Advertising

8. Be Honest

“It’s really important to be clear with clients about what they are going to receive. This is something that can be done when you review the signing contract. A clear itemized list reviewed over the phone will provide a great deal of clarity. The most important thing is to be honest from the beginning.” ~ Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now

9. Ask the Client About Specific Goals

“Expectation setting is critical. It starts with asking the client what they’re hoping to achieve and really driving at specifics. Ask them what success looks like and exhaust that line of discussion. Expectation setting can also be enhanced by in-person visits where you can develop a closer connection and have a more meaningful dialogue with the client.” ~ Douglas Baldasare, ChargeItSpot

10. Think Like the Customer

“Although the client will tell you what they expect, they may not share everything because they are uncomfortable explaining it or they forget. That’s why you need to think like the client and realize what it feels like to be them. That can help you better manage expectations because you see more of what they want and why.” ~ Cynthia Johnson, Bell + Ivy

11. Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away

managing client expectations - person walking away from meeting

“Be upfront and super clear about the deliverables and make sure the client or partner understands this prior to the engagement. Clients can become unruly and lose sight of the original deal. Some businesses are happy they got a deal done, and they’ll let the client bully them. Don’t be afraid to check them. They chose you for a reason, and if that reason is forgotten, don’t be afraid to walk away.” ~ Philip Michael, New York Equity Group (NYEG)

12. Have a Client Kick-Off Meeting

“Start your business relationship by organizing a client kick-off meeting. This way, both the client and the team can set clear expectations on what the deliverables are and when to expect them.” ~ Derek Broman, Discount Enterprises LLC deguns.net

The Art of Managing Client Expectations

managing client expectations - client and CEO discussing metrics that are on laptop

In the dynamic landscape of business, client relationships stand at the heart of success. As we’ve explored, managing client expectations isn’t merely about ensuring project deliverables are met; it’s about building trust, fostering open communication, and understanding the nuanced needs of each client. Every insight from our esteemed experts from the YEC community underscores a universal truth: Transparent, authentic, and proactive communication can preemptively solve many challenges that might arise.

By implementing these strategies, businesses not only set themselves up for smoother project trajectories but also cultivate partnerships that can thrive in the long term. As we navigate the intricacies of client relationships, let’s remember that mutual respect, understanding, and collaboration are the cornerstones of enduring success.

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The Young Entrepreneur Council The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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  1. Communication is key. Your customer should know what to expect. Also, you should assist them every step of the way.

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