Great Expectations: 4 Ways to Keep Your Clients Happy
Around 6 hours. That’s how long (on average, according to readers surveyed at Adweek.com) that it takes to read the novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. If you’re a fan of British literature, you might already know this, and perhaps you enjoy taking your time with classic tales. However, imagine that someone accidentally promised you that reading the book would only take 30 minutes from start to finish. Your mood might go from bookworm to sit n’ squirm quickly. Why? It’s all about expectations.
For most entrepreneurs, setting client expectations is an important part of everyday business. Whether you are hanging your shingle at a brick-and-mortar location or operating virtually, chances are, you are dealing with client expectations on a daily basis. With that in mind, let’s look at 4 basic tips to keep your customers tickled pink.
#1: Start Early & Often
Is someone just now hiring you or purchasing your services for the first time? You won’t want to overload new prospects, but the moment your folks are “hooked” is a great time to start setting expectations. If you don’t have a “Welcome!” email, handout or video made, hop to it! You might find that a lot of business owners gripe about people “not paying attention to the contract” or “missing important info on the website” but it’s time to come clean: our clients are no better at remembering everything than we are. It may be their first time ever purchasing a service such as yours. Remember that people have different learning styles, and hit your clients from all angles (verbal, visual, etc.) with simple information about your product/service, when it is delivered, and what your process is like. Bonus: answer questions they haven’t yet thought to ask.
#2: Realistic Time Frames
Always be realistic with your self and your clients about how long a working process will take. If you’ve heard the adage “under-promise and over-deliver” than you probably understand the value in a conservative estimate! Part of the comfort in understanding deadlines for the client includes familiarity with your process—so let’s refer back to #1. Remember to ask if your clients have questions at every turn, and always let them know what to expect next.
#3 Put Fires Out Before They Start
Or at the very least, quickly manage setbacks! Keep transparency and communication with your clients throughout their experience with you and they likely won’t mind if the process is taking longer than expected—particularly if you share updates via photos, text, or my favorite, video! They will feel included and well-cared for if you take the time to update them as the work is finished. This is particularly important for photographers, artists, and professionals who are working on projects and not products. NEVER ignore a client because you are afraid to address their questions or concerns. Delaying your response will always increase their anxiety.
#4 Earn Points with Surprise and Delight
There’s a wealth of information out there about the “surprise and delight” marketing strategy but one thing is for sure—it garners results. Think of all the times in your life that a business or individual exceeded your expectations and made you feel like the only client they had! You never forgot them, and chances are, you returned for more. Meditate over ways that you can elevate your customer’s experience to an amazing level that exceeds the clear expectations you have already set. One way I do this as a photographer is to memorize the names and ages of my clients, especially for family shoots. It is one small gesture of many that illustrates for my clients how much I appreciate them. Looking for some inspo on how to blow your customers away? Try The Book of Business Awesome by Scott Stratten. (Link: https://www.amazon.com/Book-Business-Awesome-UnAwesome/dp/1118315227)
These expectation management ideas only scratch the surface when it comes to ways that you can carve a clear path for your customers, but always remember: you are the trusted guide! Lead your clients with care and purpose.
Looking for more time to spend on surprise and delight? Free up your schedule and throw some social media management on my plate!