Over the years, when it comes to expectations, I’ve learned some really valuable lessons the hard way when it comes to expectation setting and clients.
Back in 2014, I had 18 clients and at the time I was doing done for you social media. You couldn’t schedule posts on Instagram through 3rd party apps, but you had to use multiple devices to manually post everything. It was a lot of work.
I had zero boundaries in place when it came to my clients and there was no expectation of business hours or response times. My phone literally became an extension of my body and I had messages coming in from Skype, social media, text, email, slack, base camp, Facebook, etc…
Messages were coming at me from all different platforms. It was a total nightmare and I totally burnt out. I said goodbye to a lot of those clients and started up again from scratch.
I want to share a valuable lesson with you so that you don’t ever experience a burnout.
Client Expectation Documents
One thing that I started doing and still do is I created client expectation documents as part of my contract and then created communication policies as part of that contract.
One of the things that I’ve really streamlined is
- business hours
- how to message
I know this sounds like such a little silly detail, but I highly recommend that you create a document that goes through
- what the best way is to get in touch with you (email for example)
- In case of an emergency (if the sky is falling and you need absolute help immediately) Here’s how to get in touch
- the hours that we’re going to be available
- the expected response times
I recommend that you have that at the onset of a relationship and that you have the expected turnaround time for someone to get back to you.
For example, that can be two days or maybe 21 business days. I absolutely suggest you mention that.
If you’re in a business where you are reliant on clients, which is the case for most of us, I also have expectations for the clients.
For example, if I send you a message and I have a question about something, I have the expectation that you’re going to get back to me within two business days. That way it becomes crystal clear at the onset of the relationship, what everybody is responsible for. Not that you ever want to go down the road of a breach of contract, but it’s something that you can always reference later on in the event the relationship goes south. Think of it as an insurance policy.
How I work best (Boundaries)
As my business has grown and I’ve grown, I continue to take some of these things to the next level. Not only do I have information in my contract, but soon we will also introduce, in my group coaching program, how I work best! I know that that sounds sort of crazy, but I noticed that people submit something or send me an email and then voxer me saying, “Hey, I sent you an email, can you go check it out?” Well, that’s not how voxer is intended to be used in my business.
So what we’re explaining how to use Voxer:
- if it’s something that’s under a minute, Jamie prefers that you type it out
- if it’s over a minute and you need something that’s longer feedback or you just need to talk through something, totally feel free to voxer, message me back about it and or create a long voxer message.
- Try to keep your voxer messages under five minutes.
We’re getting crazy specific about how I work best!
We’re also starting to include details about my schedule, such as Monday’s and Tuesday’s are my call days. Do not expect a fast response time. If you want quicker response times on a Monday or Tuesday, be sure to type out your message and send it via Voxer.
We’re also creating forms because I’m giving people a lot of feedback on their email or their social media, etc… and so I would drop the ball on things because there wasn’t this streamlined system for people submitting their questions. So, now if they want to get feedback on something, they need to submit it through a form. I do all my feedback on Fridays.
Think of all the little details that make you unique and how you like to work and set expectations around that. Formulate programs and then communicate that to your clients. I am still not perfect about this, because I still have to remind clients gently about the rules and expectations.
Expectations and boundaries for your business
Start today by creating some expectations and boundaries in your business.
You do not have to go to the extremes that I am going. Start small and expect that it is going to take lots and lots of time and lots of reminders if you’re not somebody who’s good at upholding boundaries. I’m not great at upholding boundaries and I have my executive assistant help me with that.
You can simply start with here are my office hours and here’s when I reply.
Again, it’s easiest if you do that at the onset of a relationship. You can do this midway through a relationship, but you will have to give people gentle reminders because you are changing someone’s behavior, so you have to get somebody to move from one way to a different way of doing things.
Most people want to be respectful of you. So these boundaries and expectations don’t need to be anything super negative; it can be very positive and it can make the relationship a whole lot better. If you’re super clear about how you want to be reached and how you work best and how you can support them best, it can make a massive difference.
Get some boundaries in place, set some expectations, and really change the dynamic of your client relationship. Not only is this going to make you look more professional, but it will also make you feel less crazy in running your business and it will up-level your business. But do not try to do all these things at once.
Pick one of these aspects, implement it and then add in another layer once you get comfortable with the first layer!
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