Erika Hall, author of “Just Enough Research” and co-founder of Mule Design is an information designer with over a decade of experience.

Q:

Erika, how to establish trust with clients? How to manage expectations and make sure that trust is well taken care of? 

Trust from clients is essential to getting good work done. The best way to do this is to start by asking a lot of questions. You need to understand how they see the process, what they hope the result will be, and what their concerns and anxieties are. Then you can use what they tell you to frame communication through the rest of the project. Talk to the client team together, then interview them individually to get more candid responses.

Put it all in writing, make checklists your friend.

The most challenging thing is to gain a clear idea of what clients do and don't know about our work. At times in the past, we've made it pretty far through a project thinking that the client team had a greater depth of knowledge. Sometimes people feel uncomfortable revealing their real questions and exposing what they don't know.

Getting to the heart of

what clients don’t know

may take more work then you expect
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Getting to the heart of this may take more work that you expect. Repeat that you expect them to be experts in their own business, but have a lot of questions about yours. It's essential to have communication channels in which clients feel comfortable having honest conversations. You need to make sure that two different organizational cultures and two different sets of background knowledge mesh well. 

Then, throughout the project reiterate expectations at every step. Reframe where you are in the work at every step. Never expect than anyone remembers anything you said in the last meeting or conversation.Put it all in writing and make checklists your friend. 

Never expect anyoneto remember anything you said.