Professional Liability

Architects: Why It’s Important to Manage Client Expectations

5/10/2019 | Dennis Trusty

Creative companies including architecture firms depend on repeat clients to not only bring in not only more work, but referrals for new work. In that regard, managing and achieving clients’ expectations is a critical part of growing a healthy and sustainable architecture practice.

When a client gets an unwelcome surprise that throws off even the slightest detail, it can derail their trust in your work. Clients want to be fully informed and kept up to date throughout the process of a project. With this in mind, architects and the firms they manage need to continue to practice expectation management in order to keep clients happy and, more importantly, keep them coming back with more projects.

Getting a System in Place

As mentioned above, it’s important to keep communication open when changes to original plans are made. While ideally it would be great to not have to make changes, sometimes they do occur and clients need to be made aware. Not relaying information to them can end an architect and their firm in hot water legally, which is why Architect Professional Liability Insurance should also be included in an expectation management system. Go over the right liability insurance option for your firm to manage your own expectations, legally speaking.

For clients, there are so many roles and responsibilities that small firms have. Architects need to ask themselves how they can ensure their clients are kept in the know and satisfied with the process of a project as well as the results at the end. Architects need to build a step-by-step system to help ferry their project through to a successful landing. The system should include a process of touchpoints, follow-ups, confirmations and checklists that will keep your clients informed while building genuine trust between you two.

Be sure to document your process and review it regularly to make sure you’re making the right effort to effectively strengthen communication and expectations. After you have a clear documented system in place, it’s important to review your benchmarks for each project. You should aim for ending up with a complete record of client authorizations and document the project’s entire process, which will be a lifesaver if the unfortunate legal matter comes up later on.

From what you’ve read, it’s plain to see that there needs to be a concerted effort to support your client’s needs as well as being diligent when it comes to covering a step-by-step approach. Having the right system in place as well as values to bolster communication and trust will help to ensure quality work and manage expectations in the process.