Managing Expectation Management

14Jul2011

image1 Managing Expectation ManagementI love the idea of expectation management. In my mind, it’s pretty clear that the level of client satisfaction is determined by how well expectations are managed.

What is more important?

I think expectation management could be the most important factor in a company depending on the outcome of a client/vendor relationship.

What could be more important?

  • Profits? Perhaps true – but I’d like to argue that it goes hand in hand with client satisfaction, as having satisfied clients will result in good publicity and return business.
  • High quality? If the client is happy, that means to that client, it IS high quality. Don’t impose your own standards on your client, you might not prioritize the same thing.
  • Having fun? In the end, it’s a lot more fun to be around happy clients than grumpy ones.

The effects of setting expectations

Set low expectations and you might not get the client at all. Set high expectations and the client will be unhappy with the result. Set just the right expectations, and you’ll get a happy client and a pocket full of money.

My ‘expectation management’ project

I’d like to take on two challenges in regards to expectation management:

    1. Find a way to formalize expectation management, so it’s not just an idea and some guidelines, but an actual specific system and framework that can be implemented in a company along with existing project management processes. It could be the foundation or a key component for all project management.

    2. Determine the real life effects of setting expectation high, low, medium, medium-high, medium low, slightly more than medium low, just below medium high and so on and so forth. Should we over-promise a little to create excitement about the result? Or should we under-promise slightly so we are able to give the client a better impression when they see the result?

      The first challenge could be quite difficult to do right – and the second challenge is close to impossible. There is bound to be a lot of speculation and argumentation, but all of that is really worth nothing unless it’s been tested in real life. That’s why I hope you will share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below each coming article.

      But why?

      If we cover enough topics, if enough people pitch in with their experiences from their projects and businesses then we might end up with a collection of related topics with insightful comments. All of those could be compiled into one coherent guideline to implement expectation management in a company – I would really like it if we could end up with a useful well structured guideline to implement expectation management within 6 to 12 months from now.

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