Taking care of your clients is, as everyone knows, vital for a service-based organization. You were hired to do a job for one or both of these reasons:
- The client doesn’t have the expertise to do it.
- The client doesn’t have the time to do it.
Reason 1 requires some targeted education and consulting from you. Reason 2 means that you should figure out how to plug in and then actively work to simplify the client’s engagement.
Both reasons imply that, ultimately, the client wants you to proactively think on their behalf and work with empathy to make their life easier. That last word is the key.
In my experience, the best way to care for your client is to make things easy for them.
There are a number of ways to do this. Many of the tactics and strategies depend on your client’s unique personality and perspective. There is no substitute for truly getting to know your client and understanding their situation. However, there’s even more you can do.
Here are three simple ways to take care of your client by making their life easier.
1. Thoughtful Calendar Invites
This one is dirt-simple, but it’s commonly missed or implemented poorly. It’s highly likely that your client is busy and has more responsibilities than just your project. Creating a calendar invite not only marks an important date, but also serves as a reference for the client.
When you think through the UX of a calendar invite, it’s likely that the client will get it, check their availability, and quickly accept. They will then promptly forget about the meeting and go on with their other business. On the day of the meeting, they will revisit their calendar, likely from their phone, reorient themselves, and navigate to the meeting.
Effective calendar invites leverage all of the common calendar features.
- Time and location of the meeting: Add the actual address so that the client can easily access a map app from their phone.
- Full participant list: Many people struggle with names, and this makes an easy reference point for everyone in the meeting.
- High-level description of the meeting: This could include the meeting goal, a high-level agenda, or any special travel instructions.
Giving a little extra thought and attention to calendar invites goes a long way.
2. Preemptive & Collaborative Agenda Sharing
Everyone hates an unorganized meeting. Doing the pre-work to define, share, and align on an agenda makes the client’s life easier. It also makes you look a lot more organized and professional.
In order to make life easier for the client, it’s best to take the first steps and give thought to the high-level agenda. Next, use a tool like Google Docs to share that agenda and allow the client to add comments or make tweaks. This collaborative approach allows the client to give feedback, but it doesn’t require them to think through everything. You’ve given them a solid starting point.
In many cases, the client doesn’t change anything about the agenda (once again reinforcing that they are very busy). But I’ve always found that clients appreciate the thinking that you’ve done on their behalf to frame and align on what you’ll discuss.
3. Asking for Feedback
This point is more challenging than the previous two, but it’s something that’ll set you apart from others.
When you’re presented with a difficult challenge, it’s common to pepper the client with a series of clarifying questions to better understand their thinking. Engineers, especially, commonly use this tactic to pull requirements from the client. This isn’t a bad approach if the client has a strong implementation direction for what they want.
However, I’ve found that many times, the client doesn’t have an established direction for a particular component of a project, and peppering them with questions may just frustrate them. After all, they don’t know all the answers. Whether they realize it or not, they hired to you to help guide them through these situations.
In these situations, I’ve found it valuable to quickly recognize an underdeveloped implementation direction. Once you’ve detected the situation, politely volunteer to craft a direction independently after the meeting. Then the next time you meet, present your direction back to the client. This gives them something concrete so they can react and share feedback. It also helps reduce the amount of clarifying questions that you need to ask and focuses your questioning on the most important aspects.
In my experience, it’s always easier to critique a smart person’s first draft than it is to invent an implementation direction on the fly.
The key to taking care of your client is making their life easier. Please share any tips, tricks, or tactics that you’ve used in the comments below.