Whether you are working in engineering, marketing or IT, at some point in your career you will encounter situations in which you will work with or manage clients. Don’t worry – even if this doesn’t come naturally to you, client management is a skill that can be learned. Here are a few basic tips that will help you to learn the basic steps:
Get the right brief
To work with clients successfully, it’s important to truly understand their needs and wants right from the start and be willing to tell them when their decisions or instincts are counter to achieving those goals.
When starting on a new project or meeting with clients, make sure you always listen carefully and repeat your understanding of what has been said. It’s crucial to get their brief right and are aligned with what your clients or customers expect – no matter whether you work in a call centre environment or head a marketing department.
Set the right expectations
When it comes to setting expectations, it’s often a matter of being proactive. Firstly, ensure that you mutually agree on realistic timelines that you and your team can meet and that work for the client’s timeframe. Don’t agree on anything before being certain that you can actually deliver it, as the last thing you want to do is to backpedal and sour the relationship or create unnecessary trust issues.
Having said that, unexpected things always happen, and deadlines may shift. Even though it’s beyond your control, make sure you communicate possible delays to the client as early as possible.
React with empathy
While the customer is king, the customer can also be difficult. Especially when it comes to feedback – clients might change their minds, pivot away from a set direction or want to start over from scratch. So, before you lash out in frustration, take a step back, listen attentively and try to understand their reasoning behind their decision. Once you grasp their challenges and can see things from their viewpoint, you will hopefully find it much easier to remain focused on the project’s main object and long-term goals.
Use your emotional intelligence
Strongly connected to the previous point, the use of your emotional intelligence will take you a long way when it comes to navigating difficult client situations. Remember that publicly venting your frustration (usually) won’t get you anywhere and could cause a rift between you and your client.
Work to become aware of your emotional strengths and weaknesses and try to use them to your advantage. For example, if you tend to keep your cool in stressful situations, then use this to your advantage during difficult client meetings.