We’ve all had a lifetime of role-models (parents, friends), examples (TV, movies), and experiences that have taught us how to act in a way that the person we’re interacting with will think we’re a good person. Most of us are good people and we want others to think of us that way. This includes clients. But unlike friendships there is no role-model or example for the client-consultant relationship. So here are some tips that will help to be a better client:
Having to chase money is one of the worst parts of my job. The stress it causes isn’t just about the awkwardness of having to ask, it’s also the fear and doubt it instills in me about the client’s ability to continue to pay. If they’re late this month, are we even going to get a check next month? Remember, on time is the new late.
Assumptions can be the reason a project fails. Try to always be very clear about what you want, what your expectations are, and if you think everything is going well. There are no bad questions and don’t worry about asking too many, worry about not asking enough.
For example: Sometimes we might be doing something wrong or have taken a wrong turn and not be aware of it. As soon as you think something is going in the wrong direction, ask.
If our current scope of work is scheduled to be completed at the end of the month, let me know as soon as possible if you’re planning on using development hours next month. Even if you’re not sure, tell me what your current plan is so I can make arrangements. Call me and talk through what you’re thinking. Feel free to do this every week.
We all prefer to work with people we like, so be friendly, ask me how my weekend was, let’s talk about our kids. Those extra few minutes can really improve a relationship.
The thing these all have in common is that they all reduce stress. My favorite clients and projects are the ones that are/were low stress. If you can reduce my stress by being thoughtful and kind then I will be happier working with you and on your project.
I think most consultants try to be really fair and even handed with clients, but we are human and prone to favoritism. If your consultant is happy with you they are more likely to do extra work, let things slide, and go the extra mile. These are not things you will necessarily see, but they happen. We all do this, and we do it more for people we like or people that have been kind to us.
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