Set Client Expectations to Achieve Success

client expectations

2 critical stages which can make or break client expectations are the initial client meeting and final review.


Two critical stages in the operational process, the initial client meeting and the final review, can make or break your project’s success, depending on how skillfully you utilize them to manage client expectations:

  • Though there are many stages in the operational process, the initial client meeting and final review are the most vital steps for setting expectations for the delivery.
  • Clear communication about timelines and delivery is essential during the initial client meeting.
  • Use the final review to make certain that what you are about to deliver matches up with what the client is expecting.

Large or small, every business needs to be cognizant of two absolutely critical stages of the operational process: the initial client meeting and the final review.

Though there are many other steps in the process, these two stages – which are focused on managing client expectations – if navigated with skill can lead to success or, if mismanaged, to failure.

The First Stage

When delivering a product through the operational performance process, the first critical stage is the initial client meeting.

It is not the first ever meeting, which many times is a marketing or sales meeting. Rather, it is the initial meeting conducted after the contract has been secured, where the processes for the project – including deliverables and timing – are outlined.

Set Expectations

The key factor to remember is that this initial meeting is where expectations are set.

As any successful business owner knows, it is extremely important to meet or exceed client expectations. To that end, you must not only come across as prepared, professional, and confident, but you must also be strategic in ensuring that you and the client are on the same page about project milestones and deliverables.

Carefully rein in any unrealistic client expectations about expectations, scale, etc. and communicate clearly about timelines and deliverables. This is absolutely critical to setting up the rest of the project for success.

The Second Stage

After most of the project work is completed, the second critical stage is the final review, a checkpoint meeting with the client that takes place just before the product is delivered.

This is not the final deliverable meeting where the project is “launched” or a post-mortem to discuss results, but essentially a “last chance” to engage the client and manage expectations before the project is out the door.

The Review

What the review stage accomplishes is that it resets client expectations, ensuring that what the client is expecting is what you are prepared to delivered, and gives your team a chance to remedy mistakes and prepare for any hard customer questions.

After all, there are no “mistakes” if the gaps between what you have to deliver and what the client wants to see can be corrected (or smoothed out of client expectations through discussion) before the product is released.

In Summary

In summary, the initial client meeting and final review meeting are crucially important to project success.

They allow you to set the tone for expectations and delivery, and then make certain that the delivery is going to meet customer expectations. By utilizing these two critical stages effectively, you can ensure that what you deliver is always exactly what the client wants.

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Alex Hart
Alexander J. Hart of Cuban American decent is principal and founder of Hart Vida Partrners. With over 25 years of experience, Alex specializes in the areas of tax strategy and planning, business process improvement, and capital consulting. Whether advising on capital and financing strategy or consulting for privately-held professional services firms, Alex has the expertise and practical know-how to help any company optimize their business processes and make tactical financial decisions. He began his career at IBM in sales operations and accounting. He was a Controller for the N.Y. Post, has been a CFO for a medical device company, and has written a tax column called “Ask the Tax Guys” for Micro-Cap Review. Alex is a professional member of A.L.T.A. (Affiliated Lawyers of the Americas), a member of the National Association of Tax Preparers, and is a contributing author and mentor at Latin Business Today. Alex graduated from St. John’s University with a B.A. in Spanish and his M.B.A. in Finance. He obtained his accounting degree from Pace University.