How to Keep Your Client Happy by Managing Their Expectations


Alicia L.

Product Manager

Posted on February 28, 2020


My oldest son used to be very difficult when he had to try new things, or, that’s what we thought.

He got angry and impatient when he didn’t know our next steps and the whole agenda of the day. So we decided to keep him informed about EVERYTHING we were planning to do and, guess what, we won and he is a very calm boy now. While trying to handle that anxiety of him, we understood anticipation, information and managing his expectations was the key. Sounds familiar? Grown-ups need that and so do our clients.

To make your client happy always inform, work together and set the right expectations off the bat. A happy client is an informed client.

  • Show your documented processes Give clear timelines

Processes show you are internally organized, however, when sharing your timeline, you will show you are in control by managing deadlines, dependencies, lead times and milestones. Most clients don’t mind waiting what you might think is a long time, but only if they understand why. Timelines allow a client to understand time-related metrics, set deadlines, synchronize tasks, identify risks, and plan mitigation for potential delays. These diagrams are useful for managers who want to get a high-level look at team tasks and milestones of the project.

  • Cover more solutions Prioritize

You could work overtime and cover 100 different features in just one sprint but if those tickets are not high-priority to your client, they won’t be happy at all. In fact, they may complain about the way you are organizing your work without consulting them.

Make sure your effort is worthy. Review your priorities along with your client and have them decide the order in which you should be boarding those items. Of course, you don’t want to forget calling out tech dependencies if applicable.

  • Be optimistic Be realistic

Don’t underestimate tasks and don’t play the hero by taking more than you can achieve in a determined time, set the right expectation up front. It’s better to commit to less and deliver more. Your client will appreciate the extra effort (remember priorities).

  • Be an open book Be honest

Clients don’t want problems, they want solutions, that’s why they hired you in the first place. They can understand errors can happen, but they’ll want root cause and time resolution. You’ll want to explain clearly and honestly the root cause (triggers, dependencies, if it is related to bad code or not, etc) But, most important they want to know which are the next steps and the action items you are taking to ensure the error won’t happen again. And of course, they’ll ask how much time you’ll need to solve it, you will need to provide realistic ETAs.

  • Deliver solution quickly Update regularly

ETA sounds like a bad word, but is necessary. We all know you are focused on solving the problem, but the client wants needs information. Take into account they might need to update their own clients or executives. If you don’t have an ETA and cannot provide it at all, agree with your client in a way to communicate (media and frequency) and make sure you share a status on a regular basis. If the tasks are taking you longer than expected, share the update and explain the reasons.

In conclusion, present your timeline, make sure you comply with it, report delays in a timely manner making sure you provide root cause, justification, new delivery dates, and update your status on a regular basis.

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