Managing client expectations is one of the most important aspects to maintaining a long-lasting and rewarding client-agency relationship.

However, understanding and meeting client expectations can be challenging, particularly when workloads and needs vary significantly from one client project to the next.

Thankfully, there are some things your team can do to outline and manage expectations from the start.

Here are five tips for managing client expectations so that everyone stays on the same page.

1. Set expectations from the very beginning

Setting expectations from the very beginning of a project is crucial to managing client expectations. Before your team begins any work, both parties should outline the terms of the project – including deliverables, timelines, goals, etc. – and then have a conversation to agree on those terms together.

In addition to agreeing on the project scope, this conversation is also an opportunity for your team to address any questions or confusions before you begin the work.

2. Communicate directly and regularly

Direct and regular communication should be a top priority to manage expectations effectively. Set a specific time to check-in with your clients, such as every Monday or the 1st of every month.

Not only does consistent, open communication help your clients understand what’s going on with your project or campaign, but it also helps to address and resolve any issues or delays along the way – rather than allowing them to build up and cause a bigger problem later.

3. Avoid making assumptions

Sometimes, it’s difficult for clients to communicate exactly what they want or need from your team. If you’re unsure of what they’re asking for, be sure to ask or send follow up questions to clarify their requests, rather than assuming you understand what they’re asking.

Of course, it’s also important to anticipate your clients’ needs, but you should never assume anything. Asking questions and then providing a recap of the information to everyone involved can help avoid any misunderstandings.

4. Be transparent

Always be clear about what you can and cannot deliver. It’s better to under-promise and over-deliver than over-promise and fall short of expectations. When outlining a new project or campaign timeline, it’s a good idea to explain to clients that due dates can change if something comes up.

For instance, perhaps a bug arises, revisions take longer than expected, or available resources change. All of these factors may affect client expectations, so being transparent about the challenges or issues that may arise also shows that your team is realistic and honest about the timeline to deliver the work.

5. Know when to say “No”

Occasionally, your team may feel pressured to take on a new project or client request as a result of your current relationship with them. But the reality is that it’s okay, and sometimes necessary to the health of your business, to say no to these requests if they fall outside of your contract or current scope of work.

If you need to decline a client request, be prepared to offer an explanation and alternative solution so they understand your reasoning and can still get the help they need.

Setting clear limits at the beginning of your campaign can keep this from happening, however, if your clients are increasingly requesting things and causing your team to get off track, then you should also schedule a time to revisit the original terms of the project.

Whether you’re a small team or big agency, managing expectations is one of the most challenging aspects of working in a service-based industry. However, it needs to be a top priority to keep projects on track and clients happy.

For more client-agency relationship advice, check out these strategies to be more transparent with your clients and our tips for dealing with controlling clients.