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Short: Controlling Client Expectations (The Dean Schuster Template)

“If you don’t establish expectations, you can’t hope to control them.”

Over the years, Dean and his team at truematter have perfected the art of managing their clients. One way they do this is through controlling expectations. In this session, Dean walks us through the weekly status report they share with clients and how they use it to control expectations from project start to end, and beyond.

First off, your status must always do these four things:

  1. Set parameters. In your language, in the way you want to control the narrative
  2. Provoke discussion. Let’s talk early and often about everything
  3. Enable project control. calm, cool, collected clarity helps your clients feel chill too
  4. Drive account growth. You are building trust, keeping them chill, they will love you

How do we accomplish those four things?

  • A Quick and Visual Status: Green, Yellow, Red. Need a client’s attention/decision/action? Nothing drives conversation faster than a color not named green.
    • Note: Avoiding jumping straight to red as yellow should drive all the discussion you need.
  • Bring up Money. What budget is there, what’s remaining, what percentage is your project at?
  • Progress & Accomplishments. What milestones have been hit? What work is underway and making progress?
  • Challenges & Changes. This is where changes and further discussions lie.
  • Next Steps. What’s next, key decision to be made.

Want to use this template? Download The Dean Schuster Status Report template here.
Want more tips from Dean? View the full session here.
For more DPM Shorts, tips and tricks click here.


Dean Schuster
owner/partner UX strategy firm, truematter

Dean Schuster has been envisioning and creating human-centered digital products since the advent of the commercial web. He is founder and owner of the user experience strategy firm truematter, leading the team to help national and international organizations change the way they do business online. He travels all over the world to speak and teach, mentoring professionals and challenging teams to a higher standard for digital experiences. Dean is also an avid ultra-marathoner and trail racer, often found in out-of-the-way places, including Antarctica.

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