What separates one designer from another? Client satisfaction.I know it sounds overly simplistic but it's 100% the truth.All of us are creative and our design arsenal varied, but the repeat customer is what separates the "successful" designer from the wannabes. Not bashing the true artistes (I appreciate you!) but those who stay too close to their design philosophy while ignoring their customer service practices do so at their peril. If the last 17 years have taught me anything it's that client satisfaction has to be your Number 1 objective.Designers often assume that providing excellent designs are enough to satisfy their clients, and that meeting design needs in a timely, efficient, and cost-effective manner will ensure a continued flow of work.Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case: doing excellent work is more often than not merely the price of entry for competing in today’s environment. To get ahead of the others, you need to develop, maintain, and manage meaningful relationships with your clients, which should include the following five elements:
1. Personal investmentWhen you make a true investment – of time, of energy, of personal capital – in relationships with your most important clients, you step out in front of other designers and agencies vying for the same work.
...it means getting to know what individual success looks like for the people you deal with on a regular basis.That means learning about your clients’ business and industry, of course, but it also means getting to know their strategic objectives, their competition and competitive advantage, what individual success looks like for the people you deal with on a regular basis.Fortunately, it’s not all that hard to get this information: most people will readily tell you if you ask. All you need to do is listen to the answers.
2. Close partnershipClients want and appreciate designers who are true partners, who help them get ahead and bring them opportunities, make them smarter, give them strategic advice. Designers who help them resolve problems, long before they’re aware that the issue even exists. Clients want allies as committed to their success as they are, not service providers only interested when there are hours to be billed.
3. Ongoing transparencyClients sometimes need an outside perspective that is honest and transparent. They stick with people who keep their word, even when it means admitting a mistake or blowing through a budget. They have a lot of choices for design work, and they’re going to pick the designers who make it clear that they’re acting in the best interest of the client, at all times.
4. Regular feedbackSuccessful designers institute formal feedback procedures to ask their top clients “how we’re doing” on a regular basis. What’s more, they take action based on what they learn, particularly when that feedback uncovers problems or changes the client would like to make.
Most clients are under continual pressure to improve processes, lower costs, and remove waste from the system...