Treat Your Clients Like People!
We’ve all heard the horror stories about nightmare clients and having to deal with difficult customers. All of us can likely recall scenarios where we’ve worked with clients that were our favorite people. While this is usually few and far between, I think some designers lose sight of reality. The truth is, I get to work with a lot of great people. If I didn’t like what I was doing, I wouldn’t do it. Some of the problems that we have with clients may be our own fault. It’s important to remember to treat clients like people, not like numbers. Let’s take a look at a few important things to keep in mind when it comes to clients.
We Are The Experts
Clients are going to ask dumb questions, because their expertise isn’t in our field. That’s the whole reason they came to us in the first place. Outside of the design world, put yourself in the shoes of your clients. Think of a scenario where you walk in, not knowing the first thing about what is going on. It’s likely that you asked a lot basic questions, too.
Clients May Not Know the Process
Just like anything you’re not familiar with, clients don’t understand how our process works. They may not understand how to get started, and they may not understand what you need from them. It will help your clients and your self in the long run if you take the time to educate the client on the design process.
A good idea is to lay out your process in writing, creating a document that describes how a typical design project works from start to finish. Providing this document, along with a brief face-to-face walk-through will help your clients feel more at ease. They’ll understand what is expected of them at each step during the process. They’ll also have the document to refer to be for bothering you with any basic questions.
You Have to Enjoy Working With People
If you’re not a people person, and you don’t like people in general, you may consider hiring someone to be the face of your business. If you want to sit behind a computer and focus on the mechanics of the design, this may be something that you will want to try.
Clients May Be Insecure
Having a professional handle their design project may be really scary for them. For some small business owners, it’s a huge investment to hire someone for anything. Keep this in mind when working with all of your clients. Act accordingly in order to show them that they are in good hands. Clients will open up to you more if they trust you. This has several benefits.
- They won’t tell you more in depth about their business.
- Overall, they are likely to be more pleasant to work with.
- If they trust you, they are less likely to nag you every five seconds.
- You will build strong business relationships for the future. This is likely to result in clients coming back. People like working with designers that they know they can trust.
Always Be Warm and Inviting
Depending on the type of clients you deal with, if you are cold and distant, it can be intimidating. Theoretically, you should be happy, because they’re hiring you for your services. If you give clients the idea that they are bothering you, it puts a strain on what could be a great business relationship. You should always be happy to see your clients, especially if they are paying ones. If you are warm and receptive toward your clients, and they are likely to stay as paying clients.
Treat Clients How You Want to be Treated
This has always been my personal philosophy, but it works well for business, too. Take a good hard look at how you treat your clients. Then, take a step back and ask yourself “Would I be happy with a person or business treating me like I treat my clients?” Role reversal will help put things into perspective for you. Maybe you’re doing things that you don’t realize that your doing.
Some designers will argue with me, but clients are people. They are just looking for help with growing their businesses. They are looking for solutions to their problems that only we can provide. It’s our duty to nurture our clients and guide them through the process to make it as easy and painless as possible. Otherwise, what are they paying us for?
Do you treat your clients like people? Focusing more on good business relationships, rather than numbers, will help bring you steady business.