Transparency and communication are cornerstones of building respect and trust with your client. Here are a few things that can both communicate effectively with clients and lead to a better and stronger partnerships.
Your Client Needs Results, Never Excuses.
Sharing expectation management and insight is absolutely appropriate in the event of a screw-up, like a missed deadline or milestone that fell short. But if your explanation of what went wrong only serves to try to take the heat off of you and onto something else, then you’re better off just not saying it at all. This is why it is so, so, so important to set a clear scope of work and manage expectations early on in the project. If everyone understands very clearly what to expect, then you won’t find yourself in a situation that needs excusing in the first place.
My job as a marketing consultant is always primarily to take weight off of my clients’ shoulders. If a project misses the mark because of a miscommunication or unclear expectation, it is always better to offer a clear plan of action to fix it or prevent it from happening again than an excuse as to why it isn’t my fault. In fact, I’ve often offered to be the fall person in case of a project gone awry, because that’s what serves my client in the moment, and the individual that I’m working with will often remember my name as the person who makes them look good for next time.
Your Client Needs to Hear How You Solved Their Problem, Not How Awesome You Are.
Listing your accomplishments and qualifications is for the marketing stage, never the execution. When I’m working on a project for a client, the time to talk myself up has passed, and the time to show results is here. There is no room for ego in business. Completing a project for a client is all about their needs, not about my need to have people say nice things about me. My modus operandi is always to be stingy with blame and generous with credit. I’ve found that this has led to much better working relationships and more successful projects than self-aggrandizing speech or playing the blame game. I prefer to let my work and my reputation speak for itself.
Your Client Should Hear About Results, Never Drama.
I’m blessed to be working with a fantastic team that I can always rely on. However, it’s not unheard of to get word that a deliverable has gone sideways because such-and-such had an issue due to so-and-so. In a corporate setting, I understand that you don’t always get to choose who you work with, and that conflicts can sometimes arise. As a consultant, I am empowered to be the go-between when necessary, so that all the higher-ups ever need to hear about is results, not drama. I love solving sticky problems for my clients, no matter what or who is causing them.
To reiterate, transparency and integrity are absolutely crucial to building successful working relationships, so we need to be careful not to cloud those communications with unnecessary negative information. If you can nail this, you’re well on your way to business success.