Sometimes the bad customers are undetectableFor this, we must be alert to certain signals that send us since we are in the first approach, others, we simply have to take the risk and be vigilant.
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1. Client promises are like those of a candidate
When we founded our design studio, our first client convinced us with the following argument: “Accept this amount, we are in the same boat, I grow up, you do too.” It is quite common for clients to induce us to the vice of doing speculative work under the promise of mutual growth. In this case it was a monthly publication, which actually grew, only when the moment came to sell it to a newspaper.
The first thing he did was transfer the task of training it to the internal design department. We lost the client after two years, we never managed to raise the price, the client systematically took advantage of us with an increasing workload, doing tasks that were not our responsibility, such as supervising printing and even occasionally printing negatives.
Today I already understood that the promises of a client they are the same as those of a politician in campaign. If we are really in the same boat, better give us shares in the company. We must learn to guide them to the immediate facts, perhaps the issue is in two essential factors: our concern to close the deal and not lose the client and the understanding that there will always be someone behind us waiting for the project, ready to accept its conditions , that is to say, often unfair competition.
In our favor, I must say that if you do not have experience, it is best to focus on our capabilities and differentiators, those characteristics that make us unique and they will make the client think twice before discarding our figure. What do you offer that nobody else has? If you are thinking about creativity, I am sorry to tell you that it is a common place, a client always assumes that one is good enough to bring this ship to a good port, that is why we are at this negotiating table.
You should think more about other characteristics that they may have than with experience, personality in your work, your speed, assertiveness, productivity, work style, customer service, among others.
One of the most difficult things to achieve is finding «That customer» with which we will have a dream relationship. I have such a client, I love her because she always likes what I do, she pays me on time, she lets me be purposeful, the meetings with her are short and concise, she knows about design, she doesn’t waste my time and anticipates any situation that can be presented to us. I came to her through another company, although it was not my first contact, from the beginning I felt very comfortable working for them. Obviously I had to take the risk that it would go wrong.
Often the issue is not finding the right customer, because it is undetectable at first glance. Normally the first meetings are very optimistic, everything goes well, the projects seem easy, and perhaps in our inexperience we fail to see the signs that the client is giving:
- Why are you contacting us, we are your lifeguard, you ask us a lot about the work of our predecessor?
- How much do you know about the project you are offering us and the designer’s role in it?
- Do you really believe in the effectiveness of design and are you willing to pay for it?
From the outset, understanding the context of the project gives us a lot of light on how it will go. If your first words are “the previous designer just crapped” or “I didn’t like what he did to me” it means we should ask the right questions before saying yes: What did you not like about him? Do you think it was not good or did you not know how to adapt to the design?
If the client seeks to convince us, exaggeration is a trap into which we can fall via flattery, make ourselves look different from the rest.
On one occasion, a client contacted me to finish a project that another office left in the middle. We accepted it, but the next time we understood why their job had been dropped. We did finish it, but we even sent a letter to the director of the company to say why we did not want to know more about them, because the client was unprofessional, rude, rude, exploitative and without the knowledge to do his job. It was difficult to reach that conclusion, because it was a good project, but if we had known this from the beginning we would have refused. We had to pay the price.