When it comes to working with clients, some disagreements are to be expected. However, the trick to mitigating these – and avoiding disaster – is much simpler than you think. You may think that if you bring people the end product and if you always deliver, then that is the only thing your client needs to worry about. Yet for some people, there is an area that matters even more than that: clear communication, and clear expectations. Clients are paying you to lead.
We’ve got the best 5 ways to make sure that you have crystal clarity with your clients every single time.
1. What You Are Doing For Them
First of all, you need to spell out what it is that you’re going to do for your client. This needs to be simple, clear, and as granular as possible. For example, we will be copy writing your Facebook ads or I am going to coach you for 12 hours per month. The big reason for beginning your communications as simply and clearly as this is that if you can’t explain it simply then it’s highly possible that you don’t understand what you’re meant to be doing.
2. What You Are NOT Doing For Them
Once you’ve parsed out what it is that you plan to do for your client, you then want to make sure you are creating the right kind of boundaries by emphasizing what you won’t be doing for them. Without this, even the most well-intentioned client can pull you into product creep that sees you working far longer without any of the benefits. Be crystal clear about what’s within your specific remit for this task, and the extras that don’t come along with the package. You’ll find in general that this is a relief for your clients, who can then plan around what you can do for them, and know where they have to fill in the gaps. It doesn’t have to be fixed in stone if you don’t want it to be. You can choose at a point to break a specific rule when you want in order to cultivate the relationship.
3. How You Will Communicate With Them
The truth about a lot of clients is that they will worry that they’re bothering you. They want to know what’s going on, but don’t want to feel like they’re intruding. Take away the stress for both of you by specifying exactly what they can expect. Will you be communicating via email or through a separate project management system? What kind of timeframe are you looking at, and when can they expect to hear from you? Your clients will follow your lead, and will appreciate you being clear and open about what works for you (so that it works for them).
4. How You Will NOT Communicate With Them
Of course, there will always be some people who use every contact detail that you have, so it’s also appropriate to specify how you won’t communicate with them. In many cases this is as simple as letting them know that if they send messages outside of designated hours, or on unsupported platforms, that you cannot guarantee a reply. While they may think they’re getting hold of you, if they’re sending you messages through an unmonitored channel, it’s important that your client knows their messages may not be acted upon.
5. What If People Break The Rules?
You’ll find in so many cases that your clients are relieved to have clear boundaries in place, and manageable expectations for the two of you. However, maybe you find you’ve got a rule breaker on your hands. As a general guide, the first time you redirect. The second time you correct. And the third time? You fire them. Why? Because how you do anything is how you do everything. If they can’t listen to you when it comes to not texting you at 2am, or assuming you’ll do work and disagreeing with your clear communication, then they’re showing that they don’t respect the work you’re doing for them. Ultimately this is to set you and your client up for success so you can get the work done that you need. The basis of any relationship is good, clear communication. And in business, it’s a solid foundation.