You’ve probably had the experience of working with clients who never stop asking for revisions. It’s a highly delicate situation. It is vital to understand how to avoid getting sucked into a vicious cycle of endless revisions on projects, to prevent ruining your profit margins and possibly even losing your mind.
Every professional knows that each client is unique and should be treated that way. It’s often necessary to make adjustments, tailoring your service to the needs of each type of contract. However, there are some considerations you must take into account within your overall strategy. We’ve taken a selection of tips from this article on Creative Bloq, and added our own observations, take a look:
1. Partnerships with a purpose
When a business relationship is commenced with the sole purpose of attaining targets, in other words, in order just to bring in another client who will boost your company’s revenues, it’s already started off on the wrong foot. Every company needs revenues to pay its bills but taking on projects that are not aligned with your larger goals is contrary to your interests. The relationship will be undermined by difficult communications and will often end badly. Here we will talk a bit about how you can identify your company’s goals, and how that can help you in conjunction with your new and existing clients.
Regarding revisions, when clients feel that their needs are not being taken into consideration to the extent they would expect, they often become more demanding, frequently asking to rework or revise projects, thereby placing a greater strain on your teams.
- Is taking on this business relationship worth it?
- Are the client’s goals aligned with yours?
- Are the client’s company’s values and culture similar to or even compatible with your own?
2. Revisions need to be direct, structured and transparent
Usually, people who work with service providers (whether a large agency or a freelancer) submit fractional deliveries. This can be useful when making quick corrections, but it can also lead to a large number of requests for small revisions. Therefore, the purpose of revision sessions should be made very clear to the client at the beginning of the project. At your first meeting with the client, inform them of how these sessions are used and what their purpose is. The client should know that submitting additional requests for change outside of the scope of the revisions will negatively affect delivery schedules.
By making your communications clear and concise, you can manage expectations and set limits. However, when you fail to discuss the project cycle clearly, your client may believe that they are entitled to submit continual requests for revisions, whenever they come up.
An important tip is to limit the number of revisions. When discussing your first delivery, for example, set a deadline for your client to ask for any changes or make any specific comments. Once all the relevant comments, questions and requests for revisions have been consolidated, your team can respond accordingly to deliver a new version. Moreover, you then avoid an endless cycle of small requests.
It is also critical not to rush to make changes as soon as the client submits their comments. Often, a given client may have an immediate reaction, submit a request for revision, and then change their mind, all within the timeframe you provided. Give them enough space so that they can formulate a complete and considered response and then implement the necessary alterations.
- Are your work processes clear to the client?
- Are you communicating the purpose of each stage of their project?
- Is the timeframe in which your client can request changes and revisions clearly defined?
- Does everyone meet their established deadlines?
>> Recommended reading: All about continuous delivery and how it can help your marketing team deliver more
3. Define what work falls within the scope of the project, and what wouldn’t
Through your own experiences, you know what you would consider to be acceptable requests for revisions and would be understood to be outside of the scope of the project. Many times, however, your client may not understand the difference. Try to mitigate this by providing clear examples that would make sense within the context of their project. Such considerations and an accounting of what sort of requests would be billed separately must be included in your initial proposal, at the beginning of the relationship, and also in your legal contract with the client. You will never be able to predict every possible scenario, but it is a good start to managing your business relationship. Such clear and precise structuring of your agreement will also make it easier for you to react when your limits are not being respected, reminding the client of your initial talks and making formal comments, if necessary.
- Does the proposal that you sent to the client clearly define what would be considered acceptable revisions?
- What scenarios can you predict and avoid?
- Can you provide examples of revisions that would be considered to be outside of the scope of the project, and billed separately, to the client?
4. Formalized communication on the project’s steps
Most clients are not aware of the steps your teams are taking to deliver their project. A simple solution, but one that can make a world of difference, is to give your client a general outline of your methods for executing deliverables. Present the methodologies used by your team. Moreover, if your team does not currently have a systematized way of going about completing their projects, we recommend that you evaluate the implementation of an agile methodology or at least some of its precepts.
The use of specific tools can also offer a measure of your reliability to the client. Be sure to mention from the very beginning how you manage your employees’ work routines. If you don’t already have work management software, take a closer look at Runrun.it. It is a fully-fledged tool for monitoring your team’s workflows since it allows you to execute and monitor every step within your client’s project, and even generates management reports that can be sent to your client.
- What is the best way to inform your client of the steps you are taking in each project?
- Are those steps logged on a system?
- Is it possible to generate reports on the project’s execution to send to your client?
5. A little flexibility goes a long way
Especially when it comes to new clients, you need to build a relationship based on trust and confidence in your dedication to their needs. Be careful which requests for changes you will deny at the beginning of your business relationship. Think about how you can grant them more leeway, at least at the start. That will help strengthen the bonds between you and your client, boosting their confidence in you, as well as avoiding the perception that you will accept any demand they make. However, only do this if you feel it’s possible to turn down some of the revisions while making sure your clients do not end up taking advantage of your generosity.
- Can you give your client some additional leeway?
- How far can you go without compromising profitability?
6. You can make mistakes too!
Some creative projects are quite subjective, as are some client requests. “I don’t like that shade of red,” “This illustration does not represent the text very well” are phrases that you are probably of tired of hearing (or will soon be). This can happen because expectations have not been aligned, but also because it is, in fact, difficult to express clearly visual preferences or very abstract concepts. If the work you delivered fails to meet the client’s expectations, simply apologize and make sure you understood the client’s needs correctly. It’s a hard lesson to absorb, but it can teach us a lot about planning, briefings, and client behavior.
- Did the client provide all the information necessary to execute the project?
- Are expectations well aligned?
- Did your employees express any doubts about the briefing before starting work on the project?
- What can you learn from your mistakes?
7. Don’t waste your time with the wrong clients
Sometimes, no matter what you do, your relationship with a particular client simply might not work. Either their views are incompatible with your own, or they may be overly controlling. If something in their behavior is making the relationship unsustainable, sometimes it’s best to part ways. When you come to such a decision, don’t postpone it, end the relationship as soon as possible. It can be intimidating and uncomfortable, but in the end, it will be better for both parties. Try to unwind the relationship in the friendliest manner possible to avoid any additional problems or closing any doors completely.
- What can you learn from how this relationship ended?
- What were the key factors that undermined the relationship?
- How can you avoid similar problems with clients in the future?
8. If the worst happens, be prepared
Your overarching goal should be to do your best within your capabilities, ensuring that your clients are happy by delivering a project that you would be proud to include in your portfolio. However, sometimes a client may be unhappy with your work, even though you executed the requested revisions and can see no mistakes. In this case, some factors may have affected the outcome. A misalignment of expectations is usually the primary cause. If you are not prepared for this or didn’t see it coming, you will end up trying to figure out what went wrong with your (now) ex-client for a long time. However, don’t waste time mulling over the loss. Instead, implement a process that will help you understand where it went wrong. Conduct an in-depth assessment, taking into account all of the above points. Here is a list of questions you should be asking yourself:
- Did you fully understand what the client was looking for?
- Could your company really deliver what the client wanted?
- Was it an isolated incident or is it worth rethinking the way you do business?
- Were you true to your values and work style?
And last but not least…
Remember to manage expectations by keeping the client informed ahead of time about each phase of their project while trying to be flexible and demonstrating goodwill. Runrun.it could be a vital part of the process of managing your relationships. After all, you can organize and document everything with it: decision logs, a single repository for all files, hierarchically stored information, comments on each task and more. Using Runrun.it, you can guarantee that your messages are being received and delegated and can show your clients multiple reports that demonstrate the work on their projects, step by step.
Managing client relationships is a nuanced, delicate matter. It is up to you to develop your own formula to create healthy relationships with your clients. Visit our site to sign up now for a free trial at http://runrun.it