The way customers interact with brands has changed dramatically over the past decade; social media and technology have given rise to the age of the consumer; where brand loyalty is fickle and everyone has a channel to voice their opinion. Because of this, nurturing good quality, long-lasting relationships with your customers is more important than ever before.
In fact, when it comes to web design, building these relationships is the most important step to creating a successful business. Not only will it help you retain these customers, but it can also convert them into powerful allies for your own marketing efforts.
Relationships built on trust, transparency and communication is key, so here are six tips to get it right:
1. First impressions count
When you meet a client for the first time, you might feel eager to make your presence felt, imposing your creative ideas or talking about your skills in an attempt to close the deal. However, a project meeting is not about you, the client is here to discuss their website. The goal is to understand the client’s problem and offer the best possible solution. Your expertise will speak for itself.
2. Establish a concrete brief
Designer’s love to solve problems. But in a rush to do so, all too often set about tackling the wrong one. Make sure you take the time to carefully read and listen to the brief and fully understand what is required of you.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions to clarify specific points of detail, and if your client doesn’t have a clear brief, guide them with strategic questions to establish one. Remember the customer values your expertise, if you don’t believe the brief will deliver the intended message or company values, explain this and then suggest ideas and solutions.
3. Short reckonings make long friends
Always sign a contract. The contract binds both you and your client and is crucial for ensuring a professional and healthy relationship. Now is the time to clarify anything that needs further explanation; set clear obligations for yourself, specify, what you will deliver and when, the number of changes or alternative designs you are willing to make for this fee, how and when they will have to pay you, at what stages you require their feedback and what the next actions will be. Open communication at the beginning is crucial for a lasting relationship.
4. Their website is not your website
Now the brief has been established, stick to it. When you begin working on a design it’s easy to get caught up in your creative ideas and forget the true purpose of the project. Remember, the client is not someone who pays you to unleash your artistic talent in the world; they hire you to solve a specific problem, which is the only problem you need to solve.
The website you are designing needs to get your customer’s message across in a simple and effective way. Consider your client, but also your client’s customer. What will appeal to the target market, and what will make your client’s product or service stand out.
5. Be human
In addition to your professionalism and skills, clients will choose to work with designers they get along with. You don’t have to be rock star, but you do have to be yourself and treat clients with the warmth and respect you’d expect from others.
Whether it’s a personalized note, picking up the phone to give your client an update on how the project is coming along, or simply responding to their tweet, it’s the little things that really show your client you care. And remember a smile can go a long way!
6. Don’t miss your deadline
Project management is a crucial skill of being a Designer. Whilst you plan the project, take into account variables like the time you will spend on feedback meetings and communications, the stages where you would require a client action to proceed, for example, approval or payment, or even contingency time for unexpected emergencies.
Setting out a clear strategy will help you estimate the required time as accurately as possible, manage the project efficiently and meet your deadline; a sure way to keep your clients happy.
Relationships in business only go wrong when expectations collide. Clarify and define early on what you expect from your clients, and what they in turn can expect from you. This will ensure you not only deliver successful web design projects, but you build strong client relationships for the future.
If you have any experiences you’d like to share, please feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear them!