Customer handling is part of any graphic design job. When you work as a freelancer, this aspect of your job becomes even more important when you work as a one-man army. All you have to do is make a sale price, convince the customer, complete the entire project and then collect the payment. If you work with a team or agency, this will be a little easier when you have people to help you with these tasks. In either case, it is always helpful to develop the client’s handling skills. The following tips can help you in this endeavor:
1) Define the scope of the project:
The first and most important thing you need to do is define the scope of the project you are going to work on. Because graphic design is a smooth field, the scope is constantly changing. But this can go against you most of the time if the scope is not defined. It would be best if you could also get clarity on the number of options you provide and the number of iterations you offer. This binds the work you do. This way, you can plan your work more efficiently and thus deliver exactly what your customers want.
2) Find out the roles:
One key part of the project is that many graphic designers miss is to finalize the roles of the people. This becomes even more important when your customer is a large number of people or a business. In such cases, it happens that the customer group is not sure who is doing what. Therefore, right at the beginning of the project, it is better that you clearly define the roles. For example, take one person in a customer group as one contact. Also specify the approval hierarchy cycle. This streamlines the entire project and ensures that you don’t hit obstacles.
3) Ask more questions to briefly understand:
Many designers make a mistake because they do not understand the instruction correctly. This can lead to catastrophic consequences because you may create something that the customer did not want. It helps if you have a questionnaire set up that you can ask the customer to fill out. Over the years, you would have learned to better understand what you need to know before starting a project. You can translate this into a handy document that can serve as a checklist for you. Don’t worry about asking questions. Sometimes even a customer isn’t sure what they want, and your questions can help him get more clarity.
4) Always make a smart and varied offer:
Customers are always behind you to give them the ball spot number or offer as soon as possible. But you should never rush this process. Once you have a clear understanding of the scope and guidance, you can plan project schedules and resources. Based on this, you can get the right offer. Remember that the customer will always try to negotiate with you, so keep a buffer when offering. It also helps if you can give the customer variable quote settings. Based on the offer they accept, you can decide how much energy you want to put into the project and how much time. Make sure you also add the number of buffers to last-minute changes. Finally, don’t forget to add hidden costs, such as buying stock photos or other third-party costs that are likely to be incurred.
5) Collect all required content from the customer:
Before you start a project, make sure you have collected everything you need from the client. This will be open files from their logo, brand instructions and other elements. Many designers lose this step in the rush to start a project. As in the previous paragraph, it would be helpful if you have a ready checklist for this task. You can send this checklist to the customer and get all the files you need. Many clients are not organized well enough for all files to be convenient. It’s possible that they don’t even have the files because previous designers wouldn’t have shared with them. If you want to go to Extra Mail, you can volunteer and get those files from the designer. This is a win-win because the designers would understand the file formats you need.
6) Put things to write:
Do not start working on a project until you have written approval for it. This can take the form of signing an employment contract or even an email from the right person on the client’s team. It has often been the case that designers have begun to work on oral approvals to disappointment later. Written approval also clarifies the scope of work and commercial agreements. Sometimes you would have sent several suggestions. It is better to find out which of them has been approved. Most designers expect a down payment and only then do they start their work. You can answer this call depending on your relationship with the customer and the level of trust you have established with the customer.
7) communicate consistently and clearly:
The key to success in any project is communication. It would help if you were clear, fresh and confident in your communication. When you start a project, you need to correct the way you communicate. If you’re dealing with a local client, face-to-face appointments and phone calls are good options. But most freelancers work remotely. Therefore, relying on emails and video calls is a better option. You can also configure third-party tools like Slack or Asana to help you communicate with each other, share files, and even track the progress of your project. Whenever you connect with customers, make sure your communication is secular so you understand what you are saying. Do not be affected by a technical ban; this may come back because they cannot understand what you are saying. As a graphic designer, it also helps if you can show them visually what you are trying to convey. This will allow them to understand your creativity.
8) Design for the customer and not for yourself:
It would be best if you remember all the time that you are working for a particular client and the output should be what they want. This is one of the most common problems. As a designer, you create something with your skills, experience, and you think you look really good. But it is possible that the customer may not like it. Many times a customer has a weak vision of what he wants. That’s why taking the right short card becomes so important because then you have the right understanding of the customer’s expectations. But either way, all designers are most likely to hit this block. It’s important to remember that the client has hired you to design at this point, and that’s why they have their way. Two things can help you with this. First, you need to develop the persuasive power to guide the customer and explain the merits of your design. Then you can come to the center where both you and the customer are happy. Another option is that you should not be too attached to the project. Treat it just like work. So when you can’t find progress with the client in design, you can waive your requirement and keep track of what the client wants.
9) Learn to say no to the customer:
Time and time again, you will encounter customers who are either too demanding or want to take advantage of your services. In that case, you have to stand up and say no. If you start to accept what the customer says, you may end up in a lot of trouble. You need to draw the line between customer adaptation flexibility and overuse. The same goes for the number of changes customers make or the type of changes they make. If you feel a a certain font or the color the customer wants does not go well with the design, you must inform him and not make changes. You need to understand that you are an expert in the subject and you have more experience and knowledge in design. It should count to something. At the same time, try to be an inseparable person. Make sure you do not sabotage the employment relationship with the client.
10) Follow schedules:
As a graphic designer, you need to respect the project schedules that you are committed to for the client. A good way to achieve this is to divide the work into small pieces and you have deadlines for each part. Working in such blocks ensures that you don’t miss schedules, and you also know when you’re falling behind the timeline. It would help if you also ensure that customers also adhere to schedules. This is important when applying for approval. Design a tracking mechanism along with the escalation matrix with the client to ensure that you receive approvals or files on time. It is recommended to use a good project management tool for this. Asana or Trello are good to try. It would be best if you also remember that the offer you offered was based on a set schedule in the project. If you shoot over it, it will have a negative commercial impact on you. Also, the more time you spend on a project, the more opportunities there are for change. Rather, you want to finish projects quickly so you can start new projects.
11) Give the result in a structured way:
The ideal way to implement a project is to deliver all deliveries to the customer in a well-structured way. You should always take into account the concrete achievements and include them in the submitted proposal. This could be an example logo files in certain formats or even as open files. Make sure you deliver everything you have promised. If you are not delivering a specific component project, be sure to contact and clarify with the customer. For this task, you must also have a standard operating method or checklist that can help you. If your requirements are ready-to-print files, make sure you make the correct design changes so that they are ready to print. It also helps to share a summary at the end of the project that tells you about the work done on the project and the files you submitted.
12) Ensure post-employment relationship:
To grow businesses, the key is to maintain good relationships. The same goes for graphic design. You need to make sure you finish the project on a good footing and maintain a good relationship with the client after that. Graphic design is usually a repetitive task and they may want to hire you again. One good thing you can do is go beyond your area of operation and advise them on their product labeling, website, or other design issue. You can add value by offering them quick profits. There is a good chance that this can become more work for you. In addition, it is helpful if you become a passive brand ambassador and guide the leads whenever you can. These little steps will help you build a good relationship with your customers.
Customer handling is something you learn from experience. However, the above points can be really helpful. The most important thing is to treat all projects with respect and develop a positive attitude. This will help you get more customers and also build a good reputation in the field of graphic design.