Our client’s offices were extremely busy. Most were providers waiting to be seen. As good customs dictate, we arrived 10 minutes before the hour, even with the intense morning cold we announced ourselves with the receptionist and we sat down to wait for us to be attended. “8:00 in the morning is a good time to be received,” we talked as we finished getting settled in the hard metal chairs, “as they enter at 7:00, they have already had breakfast, got up, checked their emails and are still in good spirits. ”
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8:30 passed. At 9:00, already a little desperate and after asking the receptionist several times if he had news of our client, he finally appeared. We recognized him since he was coming down the stairs. We looked for him with the sight hoping he would recognize us and try to alleviate, even for a moment, the annoying wait that we were enduring at the reception, perfectly comparable to being inside a refrigerator.
He saw us, greeted us, and headed in our direction, only he was intercepted by one of his coworkers. We heard that I needed your support to verify certain information. He nodded, interrupted his route to where we were, greeted us and told us that he was attending to us at one point.
It was 9:30 a.m., 10:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. we did not know what was bigger: our outrage, despair or the cold that had caused us the rude wait. It was time to make a decision. The viscera yelled at us to withdraw, but somehow the project that awaited us was attractive enough to bear the humiliation of having seen more than a hundred providers pass, be attended to and withdraw. We put a new limit. At 11 a.m.
Our anger was such that it was better for the client not to appear because we would not attend the meeting with the optimism due. All kinds of excuses that could give us such a lack of respect passed through our minds. We hoped he hadn’t had a heart attack or was in the hospital, but they were perhaps the only options we would consider valid at this point in the day.
With a small dose of grief and pity, the receptionist let us into the boardroom where she was to let her know we were leaving. We tried to smile, but we couldn’t undo the hardness of our face. We interrupted the meeting I was in with people different from what we thought we were. “We retire, we have other activities and we cannot stay any longer.” There was a very small silence, our client shook his face, was filled with anger and said with disdain:
“Too bad you are leaving, it is not very professional of you, the meeting was about to end.” Three hours waiting and he was not able to apologize, worse yet, he was offended, we were not amazed. We responded by babbling a “sorry” as we left the meeting, which continued as if nothing had happened.
It was the last time I saw this person. Obviously he didn’t call me back, much less received the project. If I regretted something that day it was not having retired earlier. At the time I was saddened that I could not participate in this work, I thought that if he had called me once outside he would have returned me, but he was still a young beardless man who knew nothing of life, he was betting on the redemption of the client, if he worked With him, he would not treat us the same way again.
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Over time I understood that this is the world of humans, we believe that an unfortunate first impression does not precisely show the essence of who we are.
This episode is one of those chapters that marked me in my professional life. I understood so much that day that it would be selfish not to share the experience of that cold January morning. In time I tanned. I got used to confirming my appointments before I left the office to make my client aware that seeing him involved spending my time, going outside, accepting traffic, finding a place to park, and almost always paying for it.
The lack of respect for the designer’s time is usually one of those points that we find difficult to assimilate. I am not just referring to the long waits we have to endure to be attended, but the calls at 6:00 in the afternoon to give us the last changes that we must have ready and sent first thing the next day, the times that we must dedicate to make whims of the client as proposals that we know do not have the slightest opportunity. Trying to justify these attitudes with “this is the business of design”, we assume that this is our work and we allow ourselves to be killed by these excuses.
Is there any way to end it? To make the client see these types of circumstances that really bother us?
There is a justified fear of keeping the client enduring his mistreatment, on pain of losing him to a fit of madness. Are there clients like that? Yes, and everywhere, but as a movie that begins with the end, and once the outcome is seen, it takes us back in time to see how we got to that point. So we must rewind to understand that this is rather the outcome of a series of decisions that, if taken in another direction, would have helped us to obtain different results.
Don’t expect that at the end of this installment series we will have a happy ending, proof of Bad Clients, but a guide to understand to what extent we must give in and assume the risks that working for someone implies.
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