With pressing deadlines, too much work, too little time and too many demands it is easy to over look the simple fact that you are the manager of expectations.
Your clients have an expectation that the advice, service or product delivery will all be done in a timely manner. They don’t stop to think about your busy schedule and why should they when in most cases they are also the manager of expectations.
There is a fine line between getting it right and having things run into a chaotic mess.
So to avoid a state of chaos, you need to manage the expectation from start to finish. A few steps to help you towards this goal are as follows:
Listen carefully on receipt of initial instructions. A simple step too often over looked.
We have a propensity to hear what we want to hear or a desire to make assumptions that should not be made too readily or too early.
Clarify expectations. We can be too quick to push things toward a certain direction without first understanding what it is they want to achieve from our input.
Fence line. After listening and clarifying the client’s expectations, place a fence line around your engagement by neatly summarising the items that you will and won’t be doing.
Both parties will then know exactly where they stand. If there is any correction that needs to be made to the fence line, necessary adjustments can then be negotiated and agreed.
Keep the client up to speed with where things stand. The last thing a client wants is for their matter to feel neglected.
A simple solution is to provide your clients with status updates on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis.
The provision of regular status reports is a sure way of keeping your clients up to date, feeling loved and appreciated.
These updates also help you and your team to remain up to date with where things stand on all your transactions.
Always grasp a clear understanding. I cannot emphasise enough just how important it is to understand what it is the client wants.
So many service providers think they have done a sterling job with the delivery of information and advice that goes beyond the initial instructions from the client. Clients can become very unhappy with over service delivery.
A great mentor of mine once said to a client:
If I had a magic wand that could give you what you want, what would you wish for?
The client thought for a moment and provided a very straightforward answer to the question. And with that simple answer, both parties were singing from the same hymnbook.
My mentor knew exactly what needed to be done to satisfy the demands of his client. The client understood that he had no magic wand but fully appreciated that he would do his best to achieve the ultimate outcome to satisfy the request.
Clear communication. Finally, expectation management comes back to clear and concise communication. A lack of communication on a particular issue will always lead to some form of detriment on any transaction. So concentrate on clear communication. If in doubt, seek clarification and do not proceed unless you have received it.
Being a creature of instruction in the service industry is not always easy but it does not have to be a living nightmare.
The above tips should form part of your playbook for all your transactions. You will see an immediate difference and your clients will praise you for your brilliant service and clear communication skills. You will also have them recommending your services to others and your business will grow and prosper.
2013 . . . the year of expectation management!