Nothing breaks trust as quickly as a broken promise. That is why I am constantly bemused by how often people set themselves deadlines that they seem incapable of meeting. As a client one has that constant let down feeling. Self-doubt creeps in, my work is not interesting enough, I am not important enough, I don’t matter to the other person. We all deal with competing pressures and clients – why put yourself under pressure? Allow time for things to go wrong, to take longer than expected, to require more analysis. Don not put unnecesssary strains on your client relationship.
I appreciate that timescales may sometimes be imposed, I would always argue for more time if required, not to do so may be doing yourself and your client a dis-service. Having said that, professionals can get a reputation for taking too long. A reputation for putting something off until the last moment – so why shouldn’t the client push the agenda?
In your relationship with the client try to develop a reputation of always delivering on time or ahead of time. In my experience, that way you will be pushed less and if you say something will take a certain time period you will be more likely to be listened to. Think of how much time is needed, think of what might go wrong, think of other client demands that may have to be balanced. Having done that, if you can, add in a margin of error and then deliver a response before that time expires.
Try to use definitive language: I WILL reply. If I get a response that says: I INTEND to respond or I WILL TRY to respond I know that that statement is worthless. I will diarise to chase the person that day or even before then.
If you can achieve all of that, I promise you the long term effect on the relationship will be amazing.