Roles, Responsibilities and Expectations: Oh, My!
We’ve all been there. I know I have!
You get to the end of a project and rather than fireworks and accolades showering down on you, there’s a lackluster fizzle of thanks from your clients. You think, “How did we get off track?”
Well, somewhere along the line expectations and reality went their separate ways. Ugh!
I did some soul searching after being in this place and had a few a-ha moments that should help you avoid this situation.
Here are 6 ways to set client expectations from the get-go, so you can make sure you’re NEVER in this situation again!
- Clarify design preferences
I make sure that I kick off each project with a thorough Q&A about design preferences. This helps me clarify that my interpretation of client requests is on track and that we’re speaking the same language.So, when a client says, “I have modern taste in design” you can delve into that further to determine their definition of modern design (contemporary) doesn’t match yours (the design period created in 1920s–1950s). You can imagine the result—and the resulting disappointment—if you don’t clear this up at the beginning of the project.
- Determine communication preferences
Set the foundation for communication—frequency, method and who should be included—at the beginning of the project and adjust as necessary to find a plan that works for all. If you fail to do this critical step, you will pay the consequences down the road. Believe me.
- Introduce your team
Be sure your clients know who on your team will be reaching out to them for information. Nothing stalls progress or payment faster than having a client who doesn’t respond to inquiries because they don’t recognize someone as part of your team.
- Establish boundaries
You are not a psychiatrist, marriage counselor, bank or 24/7 service provider!! But, because your clients probably don’t know exactly what you do, spend a few minutes of time explaining what you do and what you need them to do (send in down payments, approvals, etc.) to keep the project on track. Outline your “office hours” so your clients understand when you are not available and your phone doesn’t blow up at all hours with urgent texts.
- Outline the scope, budget and timetable
In our age of HGTV, when projects get completed within a 30-minute TV segment, there is a lot of misunderstanding regarding the actual time and costs involved in a design project. Discuss with your clients the ramifications of changes in scope and educate them about the flexibility required with timelines. Also, agree on approval channels that need to be followed by you and them regarding budget increases. If they need to sign off on every change, but don’t respond in a timely manner, your timeline is in jeopardy. Help them understand their role in keeping the project moving.
- Payment terms
Yuck. I know. Talking money and hunting down payment is probably one of our least favorite parts of the job. Explain your payment terms at the beginning, so your clients understand your expectations for payment and won’t be surprised if you need to halt progress.
I’ve created a Guide to Setting Client Expectations that you can download now for free!
Let me know what you would add to my list to set the right expectation for your design project every time.
Have a great week!
P.S. Don’t forget to grab your Setting Client Expectations Guide here!