Running client-facing projects is a big job that involves task management, diplomatic communication, and attention to detail. One of the trickiest parts? Managing client expectations.

Without this key element, you could end up with miscommunication, disagreements, and project failures. On the other hand, managing your customer expectations means happy customers, better referrals, and ongoing work. 🤩 

In fact, customer relationship management is predicted to be a $163 billion industry by 2030. Moreover, a recent report shows that when businesses implement a better customer experience, they increase revenue.

Discover 10 effective strategies for managing client expectations to build better relationships and boost your bottom line. 🎯

Why Is Managing Client Expectations Important?

Managing client expectations isn’t just about preventing the loss of projects and profits. It also has a significant effect on your process, workflow, and team satisfaction. If you don’t meet client expectations, you’ll have more unpleasant experiences as you try to right the ship. 🚢

Your team will also likely encounter lower morale. They may feel defeated or like their work isn’t good enough—even if the problem stems from misplaced client expectations. Setbacks can impact workflows and team members may have to redo things they’ve already completed, resulting in diminished confidence.

Managing client expectations early on can put you on the road to success. In fact, research by Salesforce shows that 69% of clients surveyed expect honest and transparent communication regularly.

By delivering that, you give clients what they want and set your team up for wins. 🙌

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Bring team communication together in one space with ClickUp Chat and share updates, link resources, and collaborate effortlessly with your clients

Business owners know how important word of mouth is. Good client management means your clients feel heard and understood. That builds trust and respect, which means they’ll use your product or service and recommend your business to other potential new clients. 

10 Strategies to Manage Client Expectations

Ready to build better relationships with clients? Start by managing their expectations with these 10 strategies. From goal tracking apps to client portals and documentation templates, these approaches ensure customer success, help you set realistic expectations, and establish a rewarding client relationship. ✨

1. Use a CRM to create a database of client contact information and track customer satisfaction

You can’t manage expectations without knowing who to talk to and what their profile looks like. Use a tool like ClickUp’s CRM to create a database of contact information, store touchpoint data, and build a record of discussions.

Talk to the client during the onboarding process and ask them about their expectations regarding communication, deliverables, and project scope. Enter all of this information into their profile in the CRM or use a CRM template to speed up the process. 

Managing client expectations: managing data, personal tasks, and communication of customers in ClickUp
Manage customer data, personal tasks, and communication in ClickUp from any device

Add customized fields for details like their preferred communication channels, communication styles, and basic information. As the project progresses, add updates and use the CRM to record discussions and key takeaways from meetings and reviews. 

Each time you kick off a new project with the client, review their information in the CRM to craft good communication tailored to their preferences and needs. 🤩

2. Set goals and milestones that are realistic, attainable, and reflect clear expectations

For a happy and successful client relationship, you must be on the same page regarding goals. One way to do that is to make your goals quantifiable, realistic, and attainable.

By setting clear milestones upfront, you can avoid costly scope creep that can delay projects and drive up expenses. đź’¸

ClickUp Tasks in Multiple Lists
Use ClickUp Tasks to automate set and track goals, celebrate milestones, edit tasks in bulk, and more

ClickUp Goals keep you on target with clear timelines, built-in progress tracking, and measurable milestones. Add numerical, monetary, and true/false Targets to your goals to set clear objectives that the entire team and client can see.

Break goals into folders to segment them into larger, more complex projects.

ClickUp 3.0 Golas simplified
Establish measurable goals for tasks and projects with automatic progression to more effectively achieve objectives with defined timelines and quantifiable targets

The progress roll-up view in Folders shows project status with a percentage measurement of goal completion. Underneath, there’s a quick link to key results that make updating the client easier than ever.

3. Create a strong client communication plan using templates that save time and effort

Everyone communicates differently and that means customizing your approach to every client. Some customers prefer regular communication via phone calls while others only want email updates. 📧

Remember that communication styles go beyond the actual channels you employ. Some clients want in-depth reports at every stage while others may prefer brief interactions on an as-needed basis.

Managing client expectations: ClickUp's Communication Plan Template
Use the ClickUp Communication Plan Template to create a process roadmap for seamless team and customer communication

With ClickUp as your project management tool, you can seamlessly organize details and workflows. Establish regular check-ins, larger progress reports, and notification settings based on client preferences. Use ClickUp’s Communication Plan Template to coordinate conversations with stakeholders. 

You can also explore other communication plan templates to tailor your plans and meet client expectations. From matrixes that identify plans for different stakeholders to incident plans for handling issues that may arise, templates save time and ensure consistency.

4. Be transparent with your clients and leverage permissions to share relevant information

Build a lasting relationship and improve the client experience by prioritizing transparent and honest communication. From your kickoff meeting to project completion, this approach is the best way to build trust.

If something goes wrong, don’t be afraid to let the client know. But before you do, devise an action plan to remedy the situation.

They may not like the setback, but they’ll appreciate your honesty and initiative to set things right.

Managing client expectations: ClickUp’s Sharing permissions feature
Collaboration is key with ClickUp 3.0 Docs so you can quickly share, set permissions, or export to internal or external users

In other situations, you may want to keep the client out of the loop while you handle hiccups or roadblocks. ClickUp’s Sharing permissions feature lets you share what you want and safeguard what you don’t.

Make tasks viewable to clients if you need their input and want to provide an unscheduled update.

5. Create a client portal that makes it easy to complete approvals, provide feedback, and see live project status

Some clients are hard to track down—and that’s a problem when you need their approval or review of a deliverable. Streamline your processes by building a client portal. This way, they’ll have a place to access tasks they need to complete and get notifications when something is ready to be approved. ✅

Assigning users and tasks in ClickUp Whiteboards
Use ClickUp Whiteboards to assign tasks, tag assignees, and anything needed to kickoff your next collaboration

Create tasks with clear deliverables—like revisions for an SEO post if you’re a content marketing agency or approval for a product prototype if you’re a development team. Assign the approvals to the client with a clear due date. This better sets realistic expectations across the board.

Add task dependencies to trigger the next step once the client completes the task. Dependencies will help manage client expectations by preventing them from working ahead on certain tasks, so they know what’s needed to complete the work.

6. Be proactive and build rapport to create personal connections with clients

Just as customer support teams handle customer feedback, you want to respond and adapt as you learn more about your client. They should feel comfortable asking questions and sharing their concerns with you.

One way to do this is to set extra time aside to build personal connections with your clients. These should still occur within a professional setting but they don’t have to be about project updates exclusively. 

During conversations, try to find out if you have similar interests or hobbies. You can start by asking a simple question about their weekend or playing an icebreaker game to learn more about them.

Connecting personally leads to more loyal customers—studies show that fast-growing companies generate 40% more revenue than businesses that don’t take a personalized approach. And 71% of customers expect customized interactions.

Evolve with setting expectations

Client’s expectations are always changing—but good conversations and showing you care can go a long way. Also, personalization gives you valuable insight into who the client is as a person and their pain points.

ClickUp 3.0 Adding Emojis in comments
Sometimes a simple ‘thumbs up’ isn’t enough—instead, add your favorite emojis to comments in ClickUp and keep conversations light-hearted and fun with your clients

With this information, you can customize your communication style to develop a deeper connection, increase customer retention, and exceed expectations.

Understanding how they think and work helps you tailor the customer journey and your interactions so they feel comfortable working with you. At the end of the day, people would rather work with those who understand them rather than cold, nameless service providers.

7. Set goals you know you can meet, then over-deliver on your promise 

It’s good to challenge yourself and set goals that push you to strive for success. But that can be a drawback when it comes to client interactions.

There’s nothing more disappointing than having high expectations and having them fall flat. 🤸

ClickUp 3.0 Dashboard
Break down goals, tasks, agile points, and project statuses in the highly customizable ClickUp 3.0 Dashboard

When it comes to client work, make promises you know you can deliver. Don’t say you’ll complete something if you’re unsure you can achieve it. Instead, focus on establishing goals and deliverables you know the team can meet. 

Then, go above and beyond to give the client exactly what you said you would—and more. It’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver than to come in below expectations. 🌻

8. Be clear when it comes to pricing and what clients can expect in return

The end goal here is to set boundaries and create clear expectations about what you charge and what you’ll deliver. Whether you’re a small business or a large firm, being clear on your contract is key to managing client expectations.

Be specific about what you will and won’t do. If you’re willing to take on additional work outside the initial contract, establish a system for handling work beyond the project scope. 

Great client management starts with clearly letting clients know how you expect payment and what services you’ll provide in return. Decide if you’ll be paid a fixed project rate or hourly. Build a contingency plan by explaining how much you charge for billable hours outside the agreed-upon work. 

By defining and setting boundaries upfront, you help protect your team from excessive workloads and make it easier for them to manage their schedules. Plus, you build a better user experience for the client by tailoring your agreement to their specific needs.

9. Document everything so you have a clear record of communications and expectations

It’s not enough to set expectations—you also need to document them. First, make a contract that lays out everything you discussed in pitch meetings and client onboarding sessions. Get buy-in from the client by having them sign the agreement and note any special terms. ✍️

Establish messaging channels where clients can easily find and view the documents if they have questions. Trigger notifications with real-time updates if any changes are made. Follow up to ensure everyone’s on the same page and knows what’s expected.

Use ClickUp Spaces to create dashboard hubs where clients can access the contracts and documents they need. Create separate Spaces for your in-house team and use ClickUp Docs to build wikis with important client documentation for each project. 

Connecting ClickUp Docs to Workflow
Connect ClickUp Docs to your workflow by linking tasks together

Don’t forget to use client management templates to save time and effort when building processes that create clear, reliable communication with clients. 

10. Trust your instincts to prevent misunderstandings and poor-fit clients

In an ideal world, all clients would be a dream to work with. In reality, some can be downright nightmarish. Perhaps they’re overly demanding, indecisive, or micromanagers.

To avoid getting into business with ill-matched folks, look for red flags during the initiation stage and trust your gut if it tells you this client isn’t a good fit. 🚨

Here are a few signs to watch for:

  • They demand special treatment, like services that are outside the scope of work or pricing changes that weren’t in your agreement
  • They don’t have anything good to say about businesses they’ve worked with in the past
  • They don’t respect the boundaries you established during onboarding
  • They ignore your processes or demand to take the lead over your team
  • They don’t know what their goals are or want you to create one for them
  • They’re in a hurry or expect work to be done in a time frame that isn’t realistic for your team 

Just because a client fits one of these statements doesn’t mean they’re automatically a bad fit. For example, you may be able to help a client who’s unsure of their goals by explaining more about the industry.

However, an unsure client may change their goals mid-way through the project, throwing things into chaos.

The point is to trust your instincts and watch for signs that the client may not be suited for your business. If you see things going off track early on or think it’s a bad match, it’s probably best to cut your losses and move on.

Manage Client Expectations With Ease Thanks to ClickUp

With these tips and techniques, it’s much easier to manage client expectations, build trust, enhance rapport, and streamline communication workflows. Remember to implement and review your procedures to suit new clients and fit your existing client’s needs.

Sign up for ClickUp today and enjoy the abundance of CRM, Goals, and communication plan features. Onboarding clients, sharing updates, and tailoring communications with a personal touch is easier than ever.

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