I know many of you out there have had a client problem present itself, and you aren’t sure what to do to fix the situation.
Sometimes things can go down a path and maybe there is a miscommunication and both the client and you are now wondering, “how did we get here and how can we go back, fix our steps and move onto the “right” path?”
Most of the time my experiences with clients are perfect, they move along smoothly from print to web, but occasionally there is a little client problem.
Let me share an experience and how I solved a recent client issue.
One of my clients is a small business owner, and engaged me to develop all their company’s branding. Currently in development is the website and before we got started I received some concept layouts from the client. I assumed that it was just a way of showing what they were looking for and we discussed it all on the phone and everything was going well.
As we moved into the 3rd and 4th rounds of tweaking edits to the layout, the client was sending emails with attached pdfs and saying this is what should be done. I took it to mean, revise the layouts and follow these exact specifications. So that’s exactly what I did, even if it wasn’t looking right to me.
We are here to provide a service and make our clients happy, but what if it goes against our design esthetics? So, when the client saw the new layout, as you can imagine, we were headed back to the drawing board.
The reason I’m telling you this is because there are different types of clients. There are those who just ask for our expertise and trust us, so if we explain why this or that, they agree and are happy because we helped them. There are those who may challenge our ideas or have their own and it’s our mission to help them see the best and right way and explain why.
But sometimes the communication gets muddled, and we’re not sure what we’re doing and neither does the client, so we must fix the issues, before we’re all just spinning our wheels.
My understanding was for me to follow instructions, their understanding was these were some possible ideas… but if they didn’t actually convey that they are suggestions, and not instructions, how would I have known? So we talked on the phone and we both realized we hadn’t understood what the other was trying to say, and as we discussed it all, we do now and we’re back on the right path.
My 7 tips to improve client relations to stay on the right path:
1- Pick up the phone, talk one-on-one with your client and figure out the best course of action, if you are collaborating together.
2- Make sure you’re clear and helpful so the client knows you have their best interest at heart. Go gently as they may not understand the process.
3- If something doesn’t seem right, perhaps discuss it first and explain that it isn’t working. Offer some alternative solutions.
4- Be sure that you and your client are clear on the step-by-step process involved in development and if there are issues, or things aren’t going well, don’t continue before resolving things.
5- Remember that there many solutions to the same problem.
6- Remember the client engaged you because of your expertise, don’t be afraid to show it.
7- Communication is the key, don’t depend solely on email communication, because you can write something and the tone can be quite different than if spoken on the phone, via skype or in person.
Susan Newman Design Inc is a brand identity design and marketing studio with expertise in Web. Building sites, blogs, implementing SEO and Social Media. Her brand interview series promotes others freely and she creates video tutorials to help businesses build their platforms right.