Managing your client lessons come from “All I really need to know in business I learned at Microsoft” by Julie Beck.
Make your client look good
The perfect symbiotic relationship of a project is for you to try to make your client a star and the client does the same for you! Make sure you are putting forward extra effort for your client, and do not forget to ask for recommendations/referrals.
Do not wast your client’s time
Be aware of your client’s time. Does the client want to be included in all meetings, on all memos, and emails, or does your client encourage you to “call anytime”, or “should you save unscheduled meeting for the most urgent issues. Make sure you stick to your design process, and let your client know each step.
Bring Solutions, not problems
when you come to your client with a question or problem, bring along a few possible solutions. Prior to pricing out your project, make sure you have all the cost associated with themes, plugins, and third party services included. Make sure you include any other services, outside of the scope of the project, could result in additional cost.
Prepare your client for bad news early
Do not surprise your client with a missed deadline, public relations nightmare, or production glitch. If trouble is brewing, let the client know as soon as possible. Your personal “early warning system” give your client time to evaluate the project. Be honest, especially if the project is your biggest, first or something which you do not have experience on.
See how your client works and what they need
Always figure out how your client likes to work. What are their strengths and how can you learn from them? What are their weakness and how can you learn from them? do not be afraid to ask them how they prefer to work, or confirm with them your design process.
Let them know how the project is going
If you do not let your client know how the project is coming along, then how can you expect your client to fully trust or respect you or your work.
Give your client two chances
If your client is screwing up, discuss the problem with them directly rather than going to the rumor mill. If your client does not improve, then advise your client of certain elements of your contract. Make sure you have a contract. Have an abandonment clause. Make sure you give your client date of expectation for every section of your design process.
If you have to bail out from a bad client
Your project can either be a speedboat or and anchor for your career. If you are stuck with an anchor, then call your client to advised them. Do not just abandon a project. Try to leave on the best terms possible. Provide all assets, unless the problem is a financial one, and then provide dates of release based on payment. If possible, supply your client with a replacement for completion of the project. Many problem clients for you are opportunities for other. Especially if your new and your design process still needs a few tweaks…you will find a more seasoned designer, able to set correct policies and expectation.
Do not burn bridges
Always do your best for your client. You never know when the will need help on another project, or be in a position to provide you with a larger project.
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Image Courtesy of Nathan Dumlao