Reporting to your clients can be a difficult matter, especially if the bond of trust between you and your clients has been previously broken or was never built in the first place.
If your client is asking too many obvious questions, giving seemingly useless feedback and has you in the constant state of panic, it could be because they don’t trust you. This is a massive setback for social media agencies, who have to create content for their clients to publish on a daily basis.
So, how does one cope with this situation?
The problem goes beyond communication and reporting issues, and concerns client expectations. By managing client expectations, you can build mutual trust free of intrusive micromanagement, allowing yourself the creative freedom that you so desperately crave.
Here are some tips you can utilise to manage client expectations – from the first meeting to the last.
1. Build trust by revealing your methods
During your first meeting, your client has proven to be a realistic, down to earth individual with a clear set of goals in his mind. The work appears to be great, but now you have to build a bond of trust with this client, prove to him or her that you can get the job done.
To accomplish this trust, introduce him to your agency and provide some background on how you operate. Make a list of all duties that you will fulfil and promises that you will honor during collaboration, and stick to it – religiously. If the client understands your methods and your vision, the trust will increase and their expectations can be managed more easily.
2. Get everything in writing
Trust has been established and arrangements have been made. But before you dive into any work, put together a contract: it should be a very detailed proposal, listing all the things included and excluded from the project. Even if you feel you’re “wasting space” on something too obvious or detailed, put it down in writing anyway. This will give you another chance to discuss expectations with your client as you go over your contract together later on, and it can serve as a reference if any misunderstandings or misconceptions occur.
Clear-cut contracts are good for both parties, especially when you ensure that both parties’ needs are acknowledged and accounted for in writing. They can also act as means to build trust with your client, by providing iron-clad proof that you will deliver everything promised.
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3. Have a plan B if things do not go according to plan
Have a contingency plan if things change during the process and get out of hand. Some project stages might be delayed due to unforeseen bottlenecks, which will unexpectedly push back some deadlines… It happens.
Explain to your client what your game-plan in this situation is and which moves can be made to ensure that project is back on track ASAP. This approach will lessen the danger of potential misunderstandings down the line and enable you to keep his or her trust even during tough times.
4. Under-promise… And then over-deliver
Even though frowned upon by some, many consider this to be the rule when it comes to managing client’s expectations. Like I already mentioned, things do not always go according to plan, so the final deadline should be further down the road than estimated time for project completion. By doing this, you are giving your team some breathing room for the unexpected, allowing them to deliver ahead of time. If you miss a deadline because you agreed to an unrealistic demands, all the trust you’ve built up until that moment will quickly go down the drain.
5. Keep communication going and make progress visible in real-time
Keeping clients in the loop is beneficial for both you as well as them. Providing a steady flow of progress reports will keep their minds at ease and allow you to focus on ongoing campaigns without any mishaps.
Of late, many project management tools have appeared on the market, but only a select few have provide the possibility of real-time client collaboration. To find the one that will work for your next social media marketing campaign, conduct a comparison of project management tools. And include your employers in the process, because it will help you establish timely and fruitful communication which, in return, will provide you with useful feedback.
Some tools you can consider for project management are – Trello and Asana.
It’s also important to report social media engagement metrics to your clients. One easy way of doing this is by providing clients access to the social media management tool that you are using.
DrumUp provides engagement metrics, but you could also try any of the social media analytics focused tools on this list.
6. Be responsive
When dealing with client feedback, keep calm – review the feedback meticulously, weigh its pros and cons, and respond accordingly. No matter how frustrating your employer’s attitude is, try to keep your emotions out of it. In most cases, rash, emotion-fueled reactions don’t do any good and can result in relationship breakdown. Remember that most clients will be happier with a slow but strategic and action oriented approach, rather than a quick but scrappy solution.
7. Exclude troublemakers before you even begin
Imagine your first meeting with a potential client has started and you’ve done everything in your power to make yourself presentable. However, it is not only about him liking you – you have to think about his profile as well.
Make note of his questions and requests. Stay weary about clients who use phrases like “Create a new Facebook account, but keep it cheap!”, “I think you will be able to accomplish this by morning”, “I don’t have time to think about this right now”, or “Make some things happen and we will see how it goes”.
These phrases are clear red flags that the person you are talking to will be more work than you bargained for. Your fear of unrealistic requests, overdue and nonspecific feedback and constant badgering over borderline nonsense is, in this case, well justified. It is best to cut ties and refuse cooperation with such clients because if you accept, your loss will be much greater than the gain.
8. It is ok to let go
Sometimes, it is ok to just give up. Certain clients will become more trouble than they are worth, no matter the time and effort you invest in them. They will require you to dedicate all your work hours to one project, leaving you unable to focus your attention on other important clients. The solution to this problem is very straightforward: set your boundaries and be explicit about it. If clients are unable or unwilling to understand your position or point of view, it is time to end that unconstructive relationship.
Feature image via Pexels.com