Client experiences and expectations

I’ve been documenting the various processes in my business over the past few months. This week, I’ve been thinking about the process of on-boarding new clients.

How do I ensure we’re a good fit? How do I go beyond what they’re asking for and really understand what they’re after? How do we transition from “we’ve never spoken before” to “I trust you enough to put down a deposit for this project”?

There’s another question that has occurred to me lately: have they commissioned a website before? And if so, how does this impact the expectations they have?

When I started building client websites – some 18 years ago(!) – the majority of people I worked with had never commissioned a website before.

These days when I speak to clients, they’re often on the 4th or 5th redesign of their website. Even if I’m asked to build a brand new website, most of the people I speak to have been through the process of having a website built numerous times before.

In other words: early in my career, most of the people I built websites for didn’t have any preconceived notions of how a website should be built or the process one goes through to create one. These days, they do.

Sometimes they have good experiences and work with talented freelancers or teams. But often I hear horror stories of how they’ve been burned through poor project planning or projects taking longer than expected and going over budget.

I’ve found it worthwhile to ask about these experiences. The quicker I can identify their previous experience and expectations, especially if they’re negative, the quicker I can reassure them that there’s a proven process that we’ll follow.