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Managing Expectations

There is nothing worse when we buy a product or service to find out that we aren’t going to get what we expect. It makes us at the very least annoyed and at worst, super angry. And we do not want our clients to feel like this. This is why it is critical to manage expectations.

In Sandra’s own words she explains the ease to keep people updated, why it’s important, and what to do.

“It’s never been easier to communicate and sometimes it can be plain annoying with the range and intensity of communication one receives everyday. There is no escape. I can call (not so popular with the younger generations!), email, WhatsApp, slack, tweet, insta ... the list goes on. As consumers we are often given the option to track our parcel delivery, track the route we are taking with our Uber driver and track the progress with our pizza order…. So why can’t we track the progress of our house purchase, divorce or partnership agreement? A real time progress clock as part of an app is not necessary, a simple email or telephone call will be fine thank you. We don’t expect any fancy communication, we just want to know. Here’s why. When most of us get involved with anything legal we’re nervous, Clare’s 2020 What Client's Want research described how clients had less positive emotions at the start of their journey with you. Most of us don’t know what’s involved in the work you do, we don’t know how long things take, what we are expected to do and that makes us anxious. We seem to be OK with this uncertainty if you keep us informed that everything is going as planned, or it’s not going as planned but here’s what you are doing about it.

Here’s why. When we don’t hear from you when you said you would contact us or when we expect to hear from you we fear the worst is happening. This is because of something called ‘Negativity bias’ - we are wired to think the worst in the absence of any communication so that we are prepared for survival. I realise that this sounds daft, but that’s how we are wired.

Here’s what to do. Contact us when you say you will, even if it’s to say that there is no progress to report right now, but we will be in touch in three days with an update. While this point might seem like a nonsense - you might be thinking I don’t have time to keep people updated, I need to get on with the actual work, it takes more time, I am strongly recommending that the clients will be grateful (and so will your colleagues) when you set a little reminder in your calendar to send a message or make a call.”

It is important to be categorically clear on expectations, set boundaries and accept accountability for actions that we have set.

  1. Understand more from clients in the first instance what they are expecting. Get a feel for where they have set the bar

  2. Check-in along the way. Ask the question: are we meeting your expectations?

  3. When you are talking to colleagues, ask them to let you know what they think you have said to make sure you reach a common understanding.

  4. Be crystal clear on your expectations e.g. ‘do a good job’ doesn’t actually offer any meaning. It’s important to be more specific and offer a point of reference that everyone understands and can relate to.

  5. Ask, check-in, clarify and verify and make it crystal clear.

These notes were taken from an article featured in our What Clients Want 2021 report and from a webinar that Sandra Thompson delivered for us in May 2022.

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