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."