Want fewer unpaid questions later? Train your clients now!

by | Apr 10, 2017 | Managing Clients

Don't drop the baton! Get client knowledge transfer right.

Be ready to transfer knowledge to clients before the project’s done, or else you’ll be answering lots of unpaid questions later.

A client came to me asking how they could best hand off their expertise to a client at the end of their collaboration. Their clients typically were startups that would hire in-house expertise after the agency got things started.

Having a proper client handover and training process will create a smoother transition. Imagine what it would be like if you didn’t get panicked calls from your client… especially when the client expects the answers to be free.

Planning for a smooth project handover also demonstrates Warmth—you’re showing your committed to their success, even after you’re done working together for now.

Knowledge Transfer

I was previously a web project manager, during which time I learned the importance of post-project support and managing relationships after launch. From my own experience as a PM, I recommend a process where clients own and control various assets, including:

  • Code repository
  • Hosting
  • Domain names

This reduces your leverage if clients don’t pay (which is why you want to ensure you get a deposit and keep getting paid along the way), but it also prevents situations where clients can claim you held them hostage.

Agency Documentation & Client Training

You also want to document any customizations and budget for more training than you originally expect. I’ve inherited $120,000 web app projects with only 3 or 4 hours budgeted for training, whereas I would have budgeted 20 to 30 hours for proper turnover.

Documentation allows you to minimize training time and hand over a guide that your clients can reference when they have questions. There are a few different ways you can document processes;

  • A training manual or FAQ in a shared Google Doc
  • A screencast or other walk-through video demonstrating a process
  • Audio instructions
  • Formal online training course

Better training and planning now means you’re more likely to get paid for post-launch support later.

How to Handle Further Questions

After you deliver your work and train your clients, have a plan for handling further questions. Options can include an ongoing retainer, per-incident fees, or a pre-built schedule of refresher trainings. Be sure to plan for post-launch support.

It’s important to propose these before the project ends, so clients don’t feel like you’re springing this on them when they need urgent help. If you were the client, you wouldn’t like that, either.

Question: How do you prepare for post-launch questions?

Image credit: Baton handoff photo by Philo Nordlund via Creative Commons

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