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  • Kelsea Koenreich

Setting Boundaries While Delivering Exceptional Service

I recently had a client come to me, super frustrated because she felt like she kept getting taken advantage of. Many of my clients are service providers who genuinely care about doing a good job and taking care of their clients. This dedication to genuine care is a key reason for my own success. When someone asks me about my success, I always say, "I just really care about people." However, sometimes this focus on caring can get lost in the pursuit of building success.

This client felt like she was constantly being taken advantage of, doing a lot of work outside the scope of her agreements. She wanted to provide an excellent experience and felt bad telling clients no, even when their requests were unreasonable. She also felt guilty charging more for additional services. This continuous path of overextending herself led to frustration and eventually resentment.

She wasn't being fully paid for her value and the worth she provided. Her time, energy, and expertise were being drained, and clients started expecting more and more. She had set a standard that she would do anything and everything for her clients, which left her feeling stuck. Many business owners face this dilemma, sacrificing their own wellbeing and boundaries out of fear of disappointing or upsetting clients.

Many service providers, like my recent client, feel taken advantage of despite their dedication to delivering excellent service. This frustration often stems from overextending beyond agreed terms and feeling guilty about setting limits or charging more. This path leads to resentment and undervaluation of their time and expertise. So, how do we balance delivering exceptional service with maintaining our boundaries?

Genuine Care and Boundaries

The foundation of my success is genuine care for my clients, a principle I emphasize when asked about my business philosophy. However, this care must be balanced with clear boundaries to avoid overextension. My client felt she had to say yes to everything, which compromised her well-being and led to client expectations of unlimited service.

Fear of disappointing clients or losing business often drives us to say yes to everything. This fear is rooted in our desire to please and our perfectionist tendencies. But continually operating from fear and scarcity keeps us trapped in a cycle of frustration. Instead, we must understand why we say yes and implement strategies to protect our boundaries without compromising service quality.

How to Set and Maintain Boundaries

  1. Clear Communication: Establish clear expectations with clients from the start. When a client signs on, provide a welcome packet detailing what they can expect from you, your communication protocols, and any additional charges for extra services. This clarity prevents misunderstandings and sets a professional tone.

  2. Feedback Process: Implement a feedback system to regularly gauge client satisfaction. Mid-contract feedback forms can reveal areas for improvement and allow you to adjust services proactively. This not only improves service but also strengthens client relationships and retention.

  3. Defined Delights and Boundaries: Know your limits and decide in advance how you can delight clients without overextending yourself. For example, offer small, manageable extras that don't lead to resentment. This approach allows you to exceed expectations in controlled, sustainable ways.

  4. Alternative Solutions: When clients request services outside the agreed scope, offer alternative solutions that respect your boundaries. For instance, if an interior design client wants to add an extra space, suggest an accessory for an existing room or provide a quote for the additional work.

  5. Regular Check-ins and Adjustments: Regularly review and adjust your boundaries and service offerings based on client feedback and your capacity. This ongoing process ensures your services remain high-quality and your boundaries intact.

Maintaining a Healthy, Sustainable Business

Balancing exceptional service with clear boundaries is crucial for maintaining a healthy, sustainable business. By clearly defining your services, setting expectations from the outset, implementing feedback processes, and knowing your limits, you can avoid resentment and ensure client satisfaction.

Evaluate your current client relationships and business practices. Implement clarity upfront, provide alternative solutions for out-of-scope requests, and continually seek feedback. These steps will help you maintain professional boundaries while delivering excellent service, ultimately leading to greater client satisfaction and business success.

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