Set Super Firm Expectations Now – but Be Flexible Later

February 25, 2021

Give a client an inch, and they will take a mile. You have no doubt heard this warning. 

You don’t want to be the person getting ‘taken.’ So you play it close to the vest, or you outright draw boundaries so firm no one could ever breakthrough. But are you offering excellent customer service?

Customer Service

I have seen it all regarding firm customer service, from photographers who refuse even to try a type of shot to agencies who nickel and dime every breath on a project. Those businesses think that running a tight ship – a profitable business with creative integrity – means having hard and fast, unbreakable rules. 

In contrast, excellent customer service, by its very nature, is flexible. It is about engaging customers and clients where they are by meeting or exceeding expectations. 

Most businesses live in either space more than 90% of the time. They feel their business is all about boundaries and will spiral out of control on the whims of clients if they don’t set a hardcore list of “we don’t, we won’ts.”

Or they offer the moon up front to win the project and kill themselves trying to execute on that vision. 

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You can have it these ways:

  • Flexible throughout (you will burn out)
  • Firm throughout (your client will burn out)
  • Flexible now but firm later (the ole bait and switch, get ready for negative word of mouth)
  • Firm now but flexible later (positive word of mouth)

Firm now but flexible later 

Here is another way to put it; under-promise, over-deliver. We have all heard it put that way. I think this sets the focus too narrowly. In the end, the experience is about expectations. 

You can protect your business and your team by setting firm expectations upfront. How does the process work? How many revisions do you offer? What font will you never use? Then when you book the work, the customer already knows the rules. But if they ask for flexibility, and you meet them there, they will be delighted! 

Firm now, but flexible later helps you protect your business from unlimited work while also creating memorable customer service moments. The goodwill that creates produces repeat customers and word-of-mouth marketing.