Client Compatibility: Check it Out Early to Avoid Big Problems

Recently I upgraded my Office software to Office 2010 when I got a new laptop. Little did I know that Office 2010 isn’t totally backward compatible with previous versions of Office. It caused major headaches when creating a PowerPoint presentation that my client and I were both going to be editing: formats were lost, charts needed to be reworked, etc. It was a MAJOR headache and caused the client a lot of extra work…not my favorite thing!

Going forward I will definitely be integrating some things into my project launch activities to avoid such tech compatibility problems in the future. I’ll be sure to ask what version of Office my contacts at the client site are using, do some test runs early on to identify any issues, and take the necessary steps on my end to avoid cause client frustration. That should help avoid such a situation in the future.

This got me thinking about other types of compatibility that are important to assess with new clients. Below is a list of things I thought of to cover in launch meetings with my clients to ensure smooth sailing throughout our work together:

  • Meetings: In person or on the phone?
  • Project updates: How often? What format? How detailed?
  • Billing: Payment terms? Who to contact with questions: A/P or my contact? Require PO # on invoices?
  • Reports: How detailed? What format? Style requirements (fonts, colors, templates)?

By discussing these things upfront, you can not only avoid irritating glitches in the project, but also show a level of maturity and sophistication as a consultant which shows that you have a wealth of experience and are very customer-oriented and willing to adjust your approach to whatever works best for the client.

What items are missing from this list? What compatibility issues have you encountered with clients and how have you overcome them/avoided them moving forward?

About Jen Berkley Jackson

Jen Berkley Jackson, founder and owner of The Insight Advantage, has extensive experience in using various methods (surveys, focus groups, one-on-one interviews) to integrate the voice of the customer into all functions, helping organizations increase market share, revamp product lines/services, and ultimately increase customer loyalty and retention.


  1. Hi Jen,
    This is probably one reason why I still have not coverted to a MAC. Most of my corporate clients are still pretty much PC based.
    I like the list you added at the end. What a wonderful list to make sure you and your clients are aligned. I’d also like to ask the client how would they like to deal with issues that arise. Many times when we run into problems on projects, we don’t know how our clients want to be up dated. We might take an approach that does not work for them.
    I am sure using your approach of alignment, your client gets the message that you really are not just a consultant but a true partner and trusted advisor.

  2.' Jen Berkley Jackson says

    Great addition, Angel!! Let’s hear more from the rest of you…or some great nightmare ‘client compatibility’ stories…those are always fun, too!

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