Embarking on a new project, as exciting as it might be, can often bring a lot of stress, especially if you are working with a new client. You might have successfully completed a number of projects with an existing client, which has given you a chance to get to know that client – in these situations, you know what to expect from the client, they know what to expect from you and you’ve simply learned how to communicate with each other effectively. However, when working on a new project with a new client, certain problems may arise at the very start, especially if client expectations are not managed properly.
We have recently completed a website redesign project with a new client, Homes or Houses, a property sourcing company, and the project was delivered smoothly, thanks to a few simple rules we follow.
Clear Deliverables and Milestones
This is a very important step because it helps you make sure you and your client are on the same page. The client needs to know what to expect and when, not just because that’s how things are done, but because certain phases of the project will need their greater involvements (for example, reviewing or approving the design concept or preparing content), so it is important that they have enough time to plan and prepare for this. Here is an interesting article on planning effective milestones in web design.
Regular updates and communication with the client can help you discover a problem in its earliest phase and thus make sure it does not evolve. If you think successful projects are only the ones with no issues at all, you are mistaken. Of course, some minor issues can emerge, but the level of efficiency is measured by how quickly you can identify and resolve them.
Set and Confirm Expectations
Setting expectations is something that people naturally do – with friends, family, everyday lives. However, in business, it is also important to confirm expectations and make sure the client is well aware of them and understands them. This is why confirming expectations with the client plays a crucial role when it comes to managing client expectations.
Re-set Expectations if necessary
I have to bring up this one because as unpleasant as it sometimes feels, re-setting expectations (when necessary) is also a natural step when working on projects. There could be some justified delays (delay on the client’s side, your employee calling in sick, etc..) and this needs to be addressed with the client. If done well and in a timely manner, re-setting expectations will prove to be good for your relationship with the client.
Transparency is needed in every step of the way. If you are transparent in what you do and how you communicate with the client, you will be able to develop a strong business relationship with the client. However, remember that transparency is a two-way communication street and the client needs to be aware of that too.
Sticking to these simple rules has always been helpful and enabled us to deliver our projects smoothly.