Listen, include, and communicate.
One thing I love about a client-facing role is the different personalities of the clients themselves. Some are a bit skeptical, some are super supportive, but most fall somewhere in-between. All of them, though, want their project to be successful and to be happy that you’ve helped them. And while nothing can guarantee 100% client happiness, here are some ways that will help eliminate confusion and irritation.
Everybody wants to be heard. And one of the best things you can do is actually listen to your client. Though, remember that listening doesn’t mean doing exactly what they say or think. It means actually trying to understand their POV and incorporate it, if possible.
Make sure to invite them to participate in the research sessions and the brainstorms. Having your client witness the research first hand gives them memorable examples that you can use later to backup design decisions. And while you may not want to include your client in all of the brainstorming sessions, most clients love watching the process unfold and being able to contribute. Even attending one session would help your client feel close to what is being created.
Be honest about the problems and solutions. If you’re able to discuss the user problems (as they emerge or in retrospect), then your client will have a full understanding of why/how you’re solving problems in specific ways. It’s very important for you to be able to bridge any gaps in understanding with them and the earlier they start to identify and understand the problems, the easier this becomes.
While these steps won’t fix any and every problem, they will help you create a solid, trusting relationship with your client and, hopefully, build a product that he or she also believes in.