Without communication, there is no relationship. Without trust, there is no reason to continue.
Keeping a relationship is harder than building one; a fundamental truth pertaining to the philosophy of relationship management. This concept applies to relationships around the world while encompassing the client-designer type as well.
The relationship between a client and a designer is no different from that of a husband and wife. They fight, they sort it out, they trust, they annoy, and most importantly they love being connected to one another. The intention of retention in case of a client-designer relationship, however; is based on a give and take formula where the client demands for good designs from the designer whereas, the designer wishes to bag more profits along with improving his portfolio.
Each relationship has its basis on a few generic principles that are narrowed down to specific as the nature of a relationship is particularized. In case of a client-designer relationship, following are the steps that the two should follow to make the connection healthy and productive.
How often have you seen companies making attractive claims regarding their product/service while never fulfilling them when the time comes?
Committing to a client more than the resources and time available at hand can be a hazardous act. Though it is necessary, for a designer, to keep his clients satisfied by obliging to their requests, however; this idea may not apply in case if the work provided by the client is difficult to accomplish or the time spent in catering to the client’s request is way more than estimated.
It takes month to find a customer, seconds to lose one
Giving false hopes should never be the agenda of a designer. Therefore; if the work appears to be difficult, it is fine to say No than regret it later.
Also, every designer wishes to accumulate high profits in as little time as possible. Hence, putting all eggs in one basket is not a good concept to consider. Rather than spending a good amount of time in fulfilling the requirements of a single fussy client, a designer can always try working with several clients while building strong relationships with them without prolonging the projects.
Therefore; saying No to a client not worth the time is also the best thing a designer could do to avoid several problems from arising in the future.
Communication is the Key
No person’s a mind reader. Many problems are born in a relationship when the two parties do not indulge themselves in rounds of communication. It is through communicating the purpose and details of the design process that a client and designer can strengthen their relationship.
As per the common saying, ‘Ask and you shall receive’ there is no harm in initiating a conversation. A client can kick-start a discussion by sharing the purpose of the design, the target audience it would reach, where the design will be used, and how much amount he is willing to spend on the same. On the other hand, a designer can also initiate the chat by asking for an in-depth understanding of the project. No matter how well a designer thinks he understands the client’s brief, it is always a good idea to listen to it from the horse’s mouth. Only by conversing on a periodic basis, a client and designer can improve their relationship.
Make Things Clear
An ambiguous method of working is not something that a client prefers; hence a designer should always keep things clear by mapping a process to ensure uniformity and standardization. The client should be made aware of the phases through which the design would pass. Also, the client should know, at each point in time, the exact phase at which the works stands.
A generic process, as followed by a majority of the designers, consists of the following steps:
• Sending a creative design guide to the client
• Provision of the filled design guide by the client
• Brainstorming ideas
• Sketching the ideas
• Giving the concepts a digital form
• Provision of the concepts to the client
• Feedback and revisions
• Incorporating the changes
• Provision of the final files to the client.
A designer may be catering to several different clients at a time which may make it difficult to keep a track of all the separate phases that each design task passes through. In order to cater to this problem, the designer can prepare a checklist while pasting it on a wall. The checklist needs to be timely updated for the sake of keeping track.
Getting feedback is the most important thing that a designer should opt for. A good feedback can provide important insights with respect to the preferences of the client while making the final output attain the epitome of perfection. Though the client himself can be the richest source of advice, however; a designer may not wish to disappoint the client with a mediocre concept in the first instance. Therefore; feedback can be obtained from other parties as well including fellow designers and people outside the company.
The classic Coca Cola case that spawned in 1985, where Coca Cola was reformulated, was a result of the feedback obtained from the wrong segment. The reformulation hence, resulted in a storm of criticism, washing away the expectations of the loyal customers while causing harm to their relationship.
Getting feedback from the right people hence, is the key here. Fellow designers may be able to point out the flaws in the design, however; are likely to be unable to comment on the likes and dislikes of the market. For that, a designer needs to approach people from outside the company. This research, though not mandatory, can prove to be fruitful for the client- designer relationship.
Let Go Of Your Ego
Ego is just a small three letter word which can destroy a big twelve letter word called Relationship
Ego has the power to ruin strong relationships and hence is an element that should be kept at bay. Often clients try interfering in the designer’s work while appearing as superior. Designers in such a situation may feel invaded since they tend to know better than the client. However; it is extremely significant for the designer to keep their ego aside while obliging to the client’s requests. In case if the designer feels that the client’s requests are not viable or would make the design a mess, a polite confrontation can help set things straight.
Every relationship thrives when both the parties compromise on certain aspects. In this case, it is the responsibility of the client as well to understand that the designer’s a professional and hence, the work provided as a result would be of good quality. In case if things do not turn out as expected, the client can share with the designer his feedback in a polite and constructive manner while ensuring that their relationship is not harmed.
Keep Track of Time
Being timely is an essential step towards a successful client-designer relationship. Each client is time-bound and hence, would want the designing to be finished within the deadline.
Providing the final files before the deadline can also help restore a strong relationship between the client and the designer, as unexpected surprises barely go wrong in a relationship.
Though timeliness should be taken care of, however; it should be made sure that work provided to the client is of utmost quality as well.
Putting It All Together
These steps to a successful client-designer relationship will only work if implemented together. The lack of even one of these steps has the potential of ruining the relationship altogether. Hence, it is always advisable to apply the steps simultaneously, for the sake of better results.