Do Not Inadvertently Over-Promise in Your Client Engagements

As a professional services provider, or any entrepreneur or small business, it is essential to in fact always deliver more than expected if you want to develop, and retain, happy clients.

A common mistake that many professional services providers make, however, is to agree in their client engagement agreements to perform their services “to the client’s satisfaction.” It *seems* like a great idea - you *want* the client to be happy. Who doesn’t?

What you have really done though is to bind yourself to the potential for unlimited re-dos of your services at YOUR EXPENSE. Why? Because with the phrase “to the client’s satisfaction” you have not created any concrete, measurable milestones or goals that the successful completion of your services can be measured against.

Therefore, the client has *all* the power to say “I am not satisfied with the services/report/software/etc., please make this list of changes” as many times as they want.

One of the most important pieces of advice I give to every consultant or other services provider is that you MUST (truly, a non-negotiable) (1) have concrete, discrete and measurable milestones so that both you and your client know exactly what your obligations are, and/or (2) include a phrase along the lines of “If Client reasonably believes that the services are materially deficient, Service Provider shall do no more than X hours of re-performance of services at no additional cost. Any requests for re-performance of services in excess of X hours shall be at the rate of $Y per hour.”

This way both you AND the client have matching expectations - which is key to developing, and retaining, a happy client.