How to Set Expectations with your Service Providers
By Alex George, Founder & CEO of Mountains Wave Marketing
Successful business relationships and excellent service outcomes are based on clear communication. Now, by no means do I consider myself an expert or guru in the art of service, but I've got enough experience in creating great experiences that I can be dangerous. For a little background, I started in the service industry as a busboy at fifteen and worked my way up through restaurants and hotels over the years. After working my way around floor gigs, I eventually landing in hotel sales and marketing, where you learn to sell the dream event, but only if you have a team on the back end that can service it.
One of my biggest takeaways from this time in my life was the importance placed on prioritizing your customer’s needs and possessing a willingness to problem-solve. There is always an opportunity to have your customer walk away happy, even if you can’t give them exactly what they want. I want to share some of my thoughts after a couple of poor service experiences I recently had as a customer. After these interactions, I spent some time proactively thinking about what caused these service failures and how the outcomes could have been better if I, as the customer, had better communicated my needs and expectations. I am always reflecting on how to be better at what I do and what I provide for my clients. I want to ensure that I never leave one of my customers feeling failed the way I did.
A service-centric approach was foundational in building Mountains Wave Marketing. When I envisioned the business I wanted to create, customer service had to be at the forefront. Any of my clients would say that my team and I provide awesome, hands-on service. I strive to get back to people quickly and my clients know what to expect when I’m working with them. They know we will be responsive and adaptable. We help them position themselves with their online reputations, market their products, and set up their go-to-market strategies. I take my stewardship seriously and everything we do at Mountains Wave is about the customer. We strive to make sure that we leave all of our clients happy and that our work successfully showcases who they are and what they do.
Below, I have listed a couple of pointers to guide clients to make sure you are doing everything on your end to get optimal results from your service providers. An inability to communicate expectations between two parties can lead to failure. Ask yourself, “What can I do to ensure that I am happy with the final product I am paying my service provider for?”3 Steps to Ensure your Needs are Met as a Client
- Set an expectation
Ensure that your needs are clearly outlined during the proposal phase, and identify what is most important to you. During your discovery call with a potential vendor, clearly express what it is that you need. It is your job to be specific and direct. If their proposal isn’t exactly what you are looking for, then voice that it needs to be improved or edited. Don’t settle. Setting the expectation early is important. Make sure that your service provider understands exactly what you are looking for from the beginning of the relationship. Go through this process again if needed. This step is crucial in laying the groundwork for your relationship and communication style with your service provider and agreeing upon the goal you both wish to fulfill.
- Provide Feedback Early & Often
During the planning phase, take opportunities to check in on progress and provide feedback. Creatives often want to get a project done, but by building pauses for checking in and seeing work before it may be “ready,” you can help shape the outcome you’re looking for. Communicate with your service provider to let them know whether or not they are on the right track before it is too late. It’s beneficial to be involved while it is still raw work and before drafts are completed, and although it may seem like more work, it is worthwhile and will save money in the long run to do checkpoints as projects progress.
- Build In A Buffer
By building in a bit of extra time after the delivery day, you give yourself a buffer so that there is time for improvements or changes to be made before you “go live.” Having that flexibility to conclude will give you a sense of relief and space to find the perfection you deserve. Remember, you’re paying the vendor to provide you with a product that reflects your company and to help you grow, so if the deliverable is not what you want, talk to them about revisions or changes. Don’t walk away disappointed or unhappy
Whether you’re working with your own vendors or our team at Mountains Wave Marketing to implement HubSpot, launch a new website, or build out a go-to-market strategy, taking these three steps with your partners will ensure expectations are communicated and a service failure will not be due to that.