Most creative entrepreneurs that I know are on the path to making their “craft” a full time business, but are either moonlighting, side hustling or working multiple businesses until they get there.
Is this your story, too?
As your clientele grows it will become increasingly difficult to balance good client service with multiple side gigs or projects. This will be a critical time for you. Your client’s should never feel the burden of your moonlighting, or juggling several things at once.
They will be the greatest ambassadors of your business. Keep them happy.
Managing client expectations is essential even if your business is beyond start-up and is one of the key strategies to support sustainability. Here are a few tips to help you:
Anticipate the fires. Without fail, our days are interrupted by a mini-crisis demanding immediate attention. Plan for “putting out the fire” time when providing clients with deadlines. If the project will typically take you 2 days to complete, give the client an estimated turn around of 4 days. It’s much better to provide a longer lead time than missing a deadline on the back end.
Under promise and over deliver. Always position yourself for success and stand out service. Exceed your clients’ expectations. If you give a 4 day turn around, make it your internal goal to deliver in 3 days. Establish this consistent practice for your business and clients will love you forever.
Explain possible causes for delays during the client consultation. Often, your ability to complete a project on time may depend on the client providing certain information to you. Make sure that the client understands this up front. As an additional measure, set a reminder to follow up with your client 2 days after the project has initiated. This will remind the client of their responsibility, and dispel any prior miscommunications. Additionally, it provides an extra level of customer service that will make you stand out in the sea of entrepreneurs.
Face missed deadlines head on. From time to time you may miss a deadline. Hear me now, when I say, “It’s not the end of the world!” The worst thing that you can do is hide, or fail to acknowledge it. You must take a proactive approach. Check in with the client, letting them know the status of their file or project and that you require an extra day for turnaround. Most times, they will appreciate being kept in the loop in lieu of silence.
Make information easily accessible. I use a client portal that allows my clients to check the status of their matters 24/7. Recently, a client told me that she loves that she can always log on, and know exactly what’s been done on her file, and when. A system like this takes away the guess work. It also provides a safeguard for you in case you forget to send an email, or make a phone call, the client is still at ease with full transparency about the status of their project.
The best thing that you can do for your business is to take care of it by taking care of your clients’ business. Paying attention to the details of client service and support systems are the best “marketing” dollars that you can spend. Referrals drive 99% of my business, and it can drive yours as well. Manage those expectations and see the difference that it makes.