Friday, September 24, 2010

3 Ways to be a Superhero!

My clients have been keeping me pretty busy these last few weeks. One in particular. So you might be asking why there is a picture of my character The Bolt on today's chronicles. Well, you all know I love to share sketches and all kinds of fun stuff here. This is the place where I can be free to do whatever I want and not just what I get paid for as a graphic designer and illustrator. Today I'm going to do it a little different -- I'll share a little knowledge as well. I'll start with a story about the client mentioned earlier.

She came to me with a design request for her non-profit which focuses on helping the homeless with their countless programs and resources. They're located in Orange County, CA. She wanted to create an annual report that would bring all the data and analytics that was gathered, to life. It was the largest publication I had ever taken on and it was completed in 11 days. But that's not what was important. What really made my day was when I received her phone call today and she explained to me how great everything turned out and how relieved she was to go out of town knowing this huge project was now complete. She then said "You really are my superhero". Hearing that made me feel so great. Which now explains why you see my superhero as today's sketch.

So how do you get your clients to appreciate you in this way, you might ask? Well, it doesn't matter what type of profession you're in or where you live, these next 3 guidelines will help.

3. Ask the client what they want: Yes, sometimes were so busy telling them how great we are at what we do that we don't listen to why they need us in the first place. Stop and listen to the client and ask "What would you like to do?" This will establish that you are there for them -- at their service. This establishes a rapport that will be the foundation of the work that is to come. Most times they will say they're not sure and that's why they hired you, but this let's them know that it doesn't matter how many years of experience you have, you care about your clients and want to make them happy.

2. Don't nickel-and-dime: I always say "If you're good at something, never do it for free". There are always exceptions to the rule, like charity work or donating your work for a good cause. What I mean in the case of your clients is -- don't be afraid to go outside the agreement you established when you first sat down with them. For example, our deadline was quickly approaching and the printer was not able to turnaround 1000 publications in one day, so I suggested creating a print-out version they could easily take care of with their Konika printer. She asked how much it would cost and I said "This ones on me". Think about what your friends do when you accidentally forget your wallet/purse or when you're generally in need. They pitch in or treat you, right? Well, why not do that for your clients? Making a friend is better than a client, because they will return the kindness. So pay it forward. It will come back in very unexpected ways.

1. Customer Service is not old-fashioned: So why didn't I mention any kind of design prowess in any of these guidelines? Well, because what we do is not important, it's how we do it and how we do it better than the other guy that counts. There was a time in this country's history when the customer was King. Those days are long gone, but the establishments and professionals who still rely on customer service as their number one skill are the ones that are still out there doing business in this terrible economy. I think about my bank as an example. There's lots of Wells Fargo branches, but I like going to mine because they always greet me at the door and ask me how they can make my visit easier. They have friendly bankers and that really helps when you have a million questions and they answer each one with enthusiasm. You should do the same. Be there for the client. Return their calls promptly and communicate with them often. And remember that you would be nowhere without your clients.

"Do a great job and your client will tell 3 people. Do a lousy job and they'll tell 25."

TB

15 comments:

Eliza Dunn said...

I'm so very glad I read your blog tonight. I must admit at my job it's been so easy to slack off lately. Until recently, I use to claim "service" was my passion. After reading this, I definitely want to get back to my old "super hero" ways. Thanks D for putting it out there!

Tanoshiboy said...
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Joel said...

This was really good. You have a variety to your posts that I enjoy. I think informative posts like this would be appreciated by your readers.

Anonymous said...

Found you through twitter. This is great stuff.

Craig said...

Awesome post. I just got out of school and its been real hard establishing a clientel. This is very informative. Hope to see more like this.

Keyuri Joshi (on the ball parent coach) said...

You've struck again as a Superhero as you've inspired me with this post! What you describe are three outstanding approaches to building the "relationship" with customers or potentials.

Jeannette Paladino said...

Your post proves the point that to get need to give first.

Catarina Alexon said...

Agree with you completely. Most people don't listen, wouldn't dream of doing that little extra for free. And good customer service a lot of people think is beneath them since they feel like servants.

But things are changing. In the future excellent service will be essential. If not clients will just move on and use the competition.

KeepUpWeb said...
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Sherryl Perry said...

Nice article Dennis! Differentiation is the key to success and keeping your clients happy does set you apart. As I always say, people like to do business with people they like. I’m working with a client now who came to me to build her website and she didn’t know who her target customer was. She was all over the place. She had a horrible site with a domain name that was intentionally misspelled. By working with her on the business end, she has defined an unfulfilled niche. She’s already singing my praises and she hasn’t even seen the finished product yet. It’s like the woman from the non-profit that you made happy. You can’t buy advertising like a truly happy customer.

Susan Oakes said...

Very good points made Dennis and the first one - Ask the Client is often overlooked. if you do not have a clear picture then you get into that area of assumptions and guessing.

Dayne Henry Jr said...

Man, this is a GREAT post. Customer service is a long-lost art it seems, it's great to know there are guys like you out there that care about what the client wants. You rock man, keep on postin' the good stuff!!

- Dayne

Julia M Lindsey said...

Listening to your client is very important. I was recently reminded of these when I had someone do a project for me. He didnt ask many questions and I assumed he knew what I wanted. His work was good but not what I was expecting. I had him make so many changes that he had to start over. The lesson was good for both of us. He should have ask more questions But I should have ask him questions to make sure he understood what I expected.

Tanoshiboy said...

Thanks everyone for the kind words and comments. I love that this post has started a discussion.

We all have different experiences when dealing with clients. Some are better than others, but dealing with different personalities is what makes life so interesting. Kindness is a perk every client should get.

Dustin said...

Well stated! When consulting with organizations I teach "Commuication, Accountability, and Professionalism". With today's busy lifestyle and heavy reliance on technology to communicate, great customer service has in many respects been neglected. I believe there will be a resurgence in organizations of getting back to basics when in comes to delivering great service. I'm glad to see that you get it and are sharing with others.