Train Your Clients to be “Good” Clients

Designers often talk about “bad” clients. The kind that want things done yesterday, that want their input to be taken into account, even when it’s detrimental to the design; they call constantly to check on the status of their project, and come up with a million and a half nit-picky changes to be made just when you’ve sent them their invoice. These kinds of clients do exist and they’re not easy to deal with.

Our Graphic Designer, Travis, shared a story in which he found himself dealing with one of these alleged “bad” clients. The client was asking for specific user experience elements to be added to a website. Our designer did his best to explain that the changes he wanted were not only detrimental to the design and user experience of the website, but it was also impossible to code from a development standpoint. The client reacted badly, thinking our designer simply didn’t like the request. Our designer was faced with a problem stemming from a lack of trust on the client’s side.

It may sound impossible, but it is in our hands as designers to train our clients to become “good” clients.

Building trust between yourself and the client from the very beginning, and maintaining it throughout the process can and will alleviate some of the most common issues designers and developers deal with on a day to day basis with clients. We’ve got the right ideas on how to avoid “bad” clients from the start.

Listen:

Always listen closely to what they have to say from the very first conversation you have. It’s your job to understand what the client wants and what the client needs. These are not always equal to each other.

Reiterate:

At the end of every meeting, make sure to reiterate what’s been said and write it down. This informs the client you’re listening, and that you care about the project, ultimately building trust instead of burning bridges. It also helps to make sure you’re always on the same page about deadlines and changes. This can prevent a multitude of misunderstandings from happening in the future.

Be transparent:

On your first meeting with a client, explain your process step by step. Make sure the client is fully aware of your expectations for the project. Let them know there may be limits to what can be done from a development standpoint, how many revisions can be made, how due dates can be pushed back if they do not sign off on items by the allotted time, etc. Don’t let the client be surprised by any part of your process. They should be fully aware of what they’re getting into before the process even begins.

Ask questions:

Always ask the client if they have any questions or concerns, during every step of the process. Let them know there are no stupid questions. It’s important to get all issues, suggestions, and concerns out in the open and taken care of before moving on to the next step. This will prevent set-backs from arising in the latter part of the process, when changes are harder to implement.

Once the client trusts you, they will be much more receptive to your feedback. They will trust your judgment as a designer and the entire experience will run much more smoothly.