This is not about mental capacity or speaking down to your clients. Your clients should be admired and respected, but like children, they respond better to structure and process.
To many times I’ve heard of designers, developers and agencies complain about difficult clients. Sometimes, yes, this can be true, but the majority of the time it is because of a lack of structure, communication and process around a project that causes friction between them. When a project is complete and both parties are happy with the outcome, there is still this hanging atmosphere over bad customer service, which means regardless of how amazing the project is, referrals or repeat work probably won’t be happening!
That’s a shame, as with a few tweaks the outcome could have been very different and it’s NOT the clients fault.
Given the client wants to invest in making their business better is a sure sign they have ambition and drive. Importantly they want results and the sooner the better! This is great, but not always the best fit for a considered creative workflow. The client is coming to you as the expert to do this, they have probably chosen you over your competition, so, as the chosen industry expert it is your job to match their expectations with your tried and tested process to deliver creative excellence and great customer service.
How do you do this? I hear you ask…
- Face to face meeting
Although not always possible, a face to face meeting allows each person to gather a lot more information about a project. Looking at referral projects, brands, budgets, styles, colours etc. If this is not possible then video chat is the next best thing.
- Solid Proposal
Be upfront about your costs and do your homework. Most projects can run over schedule or have additional tasks added to them, so allow for this. It is easier to budget for this on both sides than to go in cheap and ask for more later. A comprehensive proposal will also help to define exactly what each person is achieving from the project.
- Project Management
Good project management is the key to success. Using a good PM tool will help you track the development of each project, manage assets and messages all from one place. If you build this into your workflow, you will have more time to spend on client communication.
- Customer Service
Make sure that before, during and after the project you stay in-touch. Even if you’ve explained the workflow, deadlines or milestones to the client, don’t expect them to remember it like you do. If they have invested money in a project and don’t hear anything, they will feel anxious. I certainly would. It’s wise to reassure the client by giving them direct contact to an account manager or leaving them with printed information.