HOW TO MANAGE A CLIENT’S EXPECTATIONS

When is PR the same as having your kitchen knocked down and rebuilt from scratch? It’s not. At all. Or so I thought, until I became knee deep in rubble and had no roof. Let me explain….

I’ve been a client of sorts before in my many years of PR. I’ve worked with consultants, suppliers the usual, but obviously this has always been within my own field of expertise, my happy place. When we enlisted a company to knock through two rooms in our house to create an open plan kitchen and shi* quickly started to go down (namely the roof…then the rain…) I started to realise what it’s like to be a client, living through a project outside of your comfort zone. It’s not fun.

The designer, project manager, builders, plumbers, plasterers (etc) have all been happily going about their jobs, as they do every day, but as someone who doesn’t know the first thing about this sort of work, it’s actually pretty scary, entrusting these people with your home and your hard earned cash, not having a clue about what they’re actually doing. Whilst a slightly less manual discipline (!) I realised PR people can be as guilty as tradespeople for happily doing a great job but failing to hold the client’s hand along the way. The experience needs to be as good as the work itself.

I’ve always thought I was pretty good at client management, but this project has given me a good opportunity to think about it again, with a new perspective. Here are my top tips for managing clients, whether you’re an account handler or a kitchen creator!

  1. Over-update: Even if the news is “there’s no news yet” they just want to know you’re on it (and haven’t forgotten about them and gone to the pub instead)
  2. Nip any issues in the bud immediately. A tiny glitch can soon become a massive nightmare if it’s not addressed. If you reach out straight away, the confrontation will never be as bad as you think. If you don’t, swear words are likely
  3. See it from their point of view: They aren’t being awkward, they just want to be reassured

I’ll certainly remember this long after the paint is dry!

Disclaimer: I realise it might sound it, but this is not a secret rant about my kitchen company. I love my new kitchen.