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Managing client expectations is an essential part of delivering positive experiences. If you are leading a service-based business and do not know how to manage client expectations, you are setting yourself up for failure. From the outset, you should attempt to manage client expectations through communication and visibility. This article will explore practical ways in which you can keep all parties aligned.
If the above questions resonate, you have come to the right place. More than two-thirds of companies now compete primarily based on customer experience - up from only 36% in 2010. With this in mind, it’s never been more important to maintain clear and consistent communication with clients. A lack of visibility into project progress is a surefire way to frustrate customers and clients, resulting in poor experiences.
According to Esteban Kolsky, 72% of customers will share a positive experience with 6 or more people. On the other hand, if a customer is not happy, 13% of them will share their experience with 15 or even more. Failing to get all parties and stakeholders on the same page from the very beginning can potentially cost you more than just a client. Unsuccessfully client expectations can have long-lasting ripple effects.
This article is for:
Table of Contents
Client Expectation Management: Understanding The Basics
Honesty and Transparency: Key Pillars in Client Management
Communication Strategies for Effective Client Management
Setting and Managing Realistic Client Goals and Milestones
Integrating Pricing & Scope in Client Discussions
Providing Project Visibility and Access to Tools
Best Tools For Client Expectation Management: Try StartingPoint
At the heart of effective client expectation management lies the ability to set clear, realistic, and achievable expectations from the outset. This involves understanding the client's needs, objectives, and any inherent constraints or limitations that may lie ahead. By clearly defining the scope of work, deliverables, timelines, and potential risks, businesses can set a solid foundation for delivering a successful project.
Overpromising and underdelivering are surefire ways to erode client trust and damage relationships. Effective client expectation management requires a delicate balance between setting ambitious goals and ensuring realistic outcomes. While setting high standards is admirable, it's essential to align promises with capabilities and project complexities to avoid disappointment and maintain client confidence.
Transparency is important to building trust and managing client expectations. Team leaders should aim to provide clients with clear access to project progress, documentation, and any relevant information. They can do this using a centralized project management platform like StartingPoint. This transparency helps clients understand the project's direction, identify potential issues early on, and make informed decisions.
Honest and open communication is the cornerstone of strong client relationships. Businesses should proactively communicate project updates, both positive and negative. Addressing challenges head-on and seeking client input demonstrates transparency and builds trust. Honesty fosters a sense of partnership and encourages clients to collaborate effectively.
Establishing clear and consistent communication channels is essential for maintaining open dialogue with clients. This may involve a combination of regular meetings, email updates, and project management software like StartingPoint. The key is to find a communication approach that suits both the business and the client's preferences. Before moving ahead with a project, you can ask about their preferences.
Proactive communication goes beyond simply responding to client inquiries as quickly as possible. It involves anticipating client needs and proactively providing information, updates, and potential solutions before they even ask for anything. This is about being on the front foot at all times. A proactive approach demonstrates value and builds trust, fostering a collaborative and supportive relationship.
Scope creep, known as the tendency for project requirements to expand beyond their original scope, can derail projects and lead to client dissatisfaction. Effective project management involves clearly defining the scope of work and setting realistic goals and milestones. Throughout a project, you should aim to review the project scope and communicate any changes promptly to maintain client alignment.
Milestones serve as checkpoints throughout the project lifecycle and allow businesses to measure progress and identify potential roadblocks. The best milestones are achievable, well-defined, and aligned with the overall project timeline. Team leaders and project managers should communicate milestones and objectives clearly with clients to keep them informed and engaged throughout the project.
Clients should have a clear understanding of the project's pricing structure, including billable hours, rates, and any additional fees. This transparency helps manage client expectations and avoids surprises or misunderstandings. Unexpected bills and expenses can place client relationships under serious strain. For this reason, you must clearly outline the pricing model, including any variable factors, from the beginning.
Ensure that client expectations regarding the project's scope and deliverables are aligned with the agreed-upon pricing. This alignment prevents misunderstandings and ensures that clients are aware of the value they are receiving for their investment. This means they will not have unrealistic expectations further down the line. Regularly review pricing and scope to maintain alignment throughout the project.
Using a platform like StartingPoint, you can give clients appropriate access to important project resources, such as project plans, documentation, and progress dashboards. By giving clients access to a wide range of information, you can help foster transparency and engagement. This visibility allows clients to track progress, identify potential issues, and provide feedback proactively to those working on projects.
Regularly update project management platforms with relevant information, such as status reports, task completion, and any changes to timelines. This proactive approach ensures that clients are kept informed and engaged throughout the project lifecycle. In some cases, you can encourage clients to utilize these platforms for direct interaction and communication with project managers and team members.
StartingPoint is a workflow management platform that provides businesses with the tools and features necessary to effectively manage client expectations. This platform can support seamless communication with clients and enable you to bring everyone onto the same page from the very beginning of a project.
Take StartingPoint for a test drive today without charge.