I want it beautiful! How understand your client?
Let’s us, first, mention that we neither claim to be experts in negotiations and nor are graduated psychologists but we would like to share our experience of communication with clients. During our long working experience we came across a lot of different people.
Starting a new project you always have a hope that your new clients are able to explain the task clearly, to tell accurately about their preferences and to trust the major part of work to the specialist in the sphere. It’s true in most of the cases but sometimes you have to work with people who do not know what they want. When you have such clients it is really important to built right communication to achieve the result you need.
For those who do not like to read long texts the main conclusion – try to discuss all crucial aspects IN ADVANCE, even before you had spent efforts for thinking over a concept-design and more over before you had started to do something. Your sincere aspiration to do «better, more beautiful, more clear…» is more likely to meet no appreciation at all. You will earn nothing but wasted time and nerves.
Below you can find some practical tips regarding preliminary agreements with a client. These tips are not for big design agencies with a team of layers, managers and producers; these tips are mainly for small design-studios and freelancers.
• Create a brief note for each type of services you offer. It is not just a written proof of client’s requirements but also an excellent assistant in assessment of project cost as well as the guarantee that you will not miss anything important at the initial stage.
• Try to have all the correspondence in one place (e-mail, messenger, etc.). When information comes from different sources try to double it in the main source.
• If you agree something verbally don’t be lazy and prepare a summary of the agreements.
Ask your client to give a written reply to this summary.
• Always negotiate time lines and number of corrections and fix it in writing.
• Don’t be shy to show intermediate results. It’s far easier to make changes, to change the concept-design on the stages of project development. Plus the client will be aware of the stage of the project which enhances his trust. All sunshine makes a desert, do not misapply this item.
Force-majeure. What to do if something went wrong.
Despite of all your efforts sometimes it is impossible to avoid conflicts and to foresee all the possible outcomes and the client, anyway, is not content with the result. And sometimes he is not just discontent, he cannot understand what he doesn’t like in particular. Or, for instance, the client proposes allegedly a right idea of the design you cannot agree with.
Unfortunately there is not a common solution for all these cases. Everything depends on many factors. The main remedy – you have to ask, ask and ask one more time. Ask different questions from broad general ones to the small particular details. There are a lot of cases when the true source of discontent is totally different from that seemed to be at the beginning. Try to put yourself in your client’s shoes, understand what he needs and how it is possible to improve his perception to get a better result, you have to propose options and comment his wishes – most people ready to listen to the competent opinion justified by facts and find a compromise.
You shall not prove with froth at the mouse that you are the only person able to see an unique ideal, be flexible. Sometimes you have to shut a mouth of your internal perfectionist and agree to the compromise. As a result you shall leave your client with a sense of satisfaction not only with the work done but also with the process of work itself. Of course, you want that it will be you who your client recommends to his fellows to do the design with.
If you see, however, that you have no chance for success with a client, and he even is not trying to listen to your opinion and it is impossible to establish the contact do not hesitate to refuse from the work. I hope you haven’t forgotten about an advance payment.
Finally we would like to wish all of you a lot of interesting and original projects with interesting and pertinent clients.