Managing Client Expectations
Ever feel like you missed a client email and they got so upset you imagined they were pulling at their hair and steaming out their ears? Do you ever get the guilty feeling in your stomach when you don’t check your email every 20 minutes and respond to everything that came in right away?
Take a read below…
Thank you for your email. It has been received and is comfortably resting in our inbox. We check our inbox throughout the day Monday – Friday and we promise we will respond to you within 24 hours.
Have a blissful day.
In loving service,
“Almost everything will work again if you just unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” – Anne Lamott
Who knew something as simple as this automatic reply email could cause such rippling effects on people in my community.
What you just read is a permanent automatic reply that I have set up on my business email account. Anyone who sends me an email, no matter who and when, will receive this message in response.
I’ve had friends, clients and colleagues reach out to me specifically to tell me that when they receive this message in reply to an email, no matter who many times they’ve read it, it inspires them to breath, relax and feel confident that their email is truly resting in my inbox and that I have the intention to read it and respond.
In business we talk about emails like they’re just simply THINGS to manage on our to do list, but one day, it finally hit me… I can use email to have a meaningful experience with my clients and I can use email as a means of managing their expectations of me along the way.
As an attorney when clients email me it’s usually a matter of deep concern. It’s important for me to show them that I recognize this and for them to feel secure that I will respond to them in a reasonable time. We all know what it feels like to send an email, that needs a response, where days go by with no word in return. Perhaps you’ve been in a situation where you’ve had to send multiple emails and eventually make a phone call just to get a simple yes or no response.
Just recently I was working on a real estate transaction where I had to email the seller’s lawyer 3 times and call their office 3 more times just to confirm they received my email and were looking into my requests. I had to become the squeaky wheel because if I didn’t I wouldn’t have heard back in weeks most likely. My client was very concerned and worried and I had to spend extra time to ease my client’s nerves until we heard back. (Thankfully I’m trained in yogic stress reduction)
I never want my clients or colleagues to feel this way when they work with me. So I started figuring out how I could manage this.
1. I could just set my intention to answer all emails within 24 hours, which would certainly do the trick, but I want my client’s experience to be even better than that. I want them to KNOW what their experience will be like with me and I want them to know in a way that is reflective of my values and have them be reminded why they chose me as their coach or lawyer.
So I chose to go beyond option 1 and came up with option 2:
2. Because I’m a yogi AND a lawyer, I understand stress AND I understand how important it is to manage it. I want my clients and colleagues to receive little reminders to relax, feel patient and to take a few moments to breath, especially at intermittent times during the work day, so what better way than to draft an automatic reply email that 1. Lets them know I will respond within 24 hours (manage expectation – tell them what to expect) and 2. Draft the language to evoke a sense of comfort, ease, and security and to add a quote that will remind them to relax as mentioned above.
And so this is how my automatic reply email was born.
After some thinking I realized I could manage my clients’ and colleagues’ expectations by setting an automatic reply email. I have a few networking connections, like my friend Chris over at eLend, for example, who manage expectations in a similar manner and it always made me feel so comforted. Chris probably gets a lot of phone calls so he has a voicemail specifically recorded to let everyone know he checks his voicemail at two time slots per day.
Here’s a gentle reminder: when your client’s or colleagues email you, it isn’t just to unnecessarily fill your inbox. It could be a plea for help, or clarification. Their email could also be packed with excitement, ideas and plans that could possibly shape your future. Any email that’s not SPAM related was written with conscious effort and intention.
So if this post has inspired you to start managing your clients expectations mindfully, here are 4 tips to get started:
- Think of all the ways clients can reach out to you and have their messages fall on deaf ears, for example voicemail, email, Facebook etc. Then figure out a schedule for yourself that you can put into place to manage these messages from your clients, such as checking email and voicemail at a certain time per day. Lastly, leave information regarding your process in your own voice and tone that matches your branding letting your clients know when you will check your messages.
- Determine the areas of your business that seem spontaneous, such as signing up a new client. If this is spontaneous and if you don’t’ have a consistent system in place for signing up a new client, consider developing a client welcome kit, for example.
- Lastly, spend time visualizing the journey you’d like to take your client on. Spend time doing deep breathing exercises and meditation to make space for this visualization process.
- Imagine the level of customer service you’d like to offer. Are you offering low priced, volume services or high priced niche services? Your interactions with your client will depend on how you are positioned in the market. Study established companies that are like you and determine what they’re doing. You can also determine what they’re not doing and use this study period to develop an edge and increase your ability to compete.
If you have any examples of how you manage your client’s expectations, I’d love to hear it! Feel free to email me in reply to this newsletter or comment on the post below!
Maybe you’ll let me know that this newsletter is comfortably resting in your inbox.
Until next time!
Ashley Molson, Attorney at Law