Working with clients: part 1
Unsure about working with clients on a project? First project you have managed and led? You may have questions on how to appropriately manage your work, your conduct, and all those meetings.
In the first of our series on how to work with clients, we look at the initial steps you should take to establish a brilliant working relationship.
1. Put yourself in their shoes
Imagine you are seeking to complete their project; what steps would you take, and how you would like your company to help? This can help provide a new perspective on client requirements and even present you with insight on how you could change your own approach.
2. Get the specifics
You should have sight of all desired project outcomes before the project commences in order to appropriately allocate resources and methodologies. Put together a project outline with the client, with clear objectives, outputs, and what they expect of you. During this time, you can mitigate any unexpected requests. The final contract may have already been signed off by another department, but this is your chance to be clear on what you can offer, and how you can help. It’s also a time for the client to express any concerns such as deadlines and deliverables.
3. Arm yourself with business cards
The client needs to know how to reach you, and preferably, when they can reach you. Be sure to note your working hours - you're unlikely to be on-call 24 hours a day!
4. Research your client’s business
It’s flattering and reassuring when someone can tell you about what you do, and show a clear understanding. Clients need to know that they have a safe pair of hands in you, and being supportive of their goals will engender trust.
5. Answer phone calls, emails, and any carrier pigeons
They’re unlikely to be communicating over Snapchat (or pigeon!), but during working hours it’s key to spend at least 30 minutes of your day answering communications or sending client updates.
6. Demonstrate you have the knowledge to meet their needs, and go beyond
Always think of the future projects or relationships on offer, and make sure you become someone to remember. You can sort their finances no problem, but maybe they don’t know that you could also advise on digital technology for their business? Highlight the breadth of your skillset (and your colleagues’) in initial meetings as part your introduction – the client may not have thought of the various ways your organisation can help theirs.
7. If you detect a particular issue in their requests, highlight it at the beginning
Take some time to pour over their requirements, and assess against your resources, skills and availability. Perhaps you can complete the project, but in the proposed last week your team are away from the office? It’s best to clarify issues prior to face-to-face meetings, so get into the habit of client preparation the night before.