Every designer, rather in-house or entrepreneur, benefits from establishing positive client relationships – this is a no-brainer. Actually initiating that rapport is where it gets tricky.
Design entrepreneur Shari Schwartz has lived through the process of building and sustaining a client base, and she shares her learning lessons in the course, How to Develop & Maintain Effective Client Relationships. In the course, she covers common frustrations among designers such as knowing when to persuade the client to your design thinking and when to compromise. But that’s not all. She discusses how to build a strong rapport with clients, how to keep the clients returning for other design projects, and how to end a relationship without burning any bridges. She also provides insight into CRM systems (customer relationship management), and why they are beneficial tools in developing your client relationships.
From her course, we grabbed a helpful snippet on qualities to present to prospective clients. See how you can initiate an outstanding client relationship with the excerpt below:
3 Tips for Building Client Relationships
Be the person that everyone else wants to be around… or just be, in general. I acknowledge that everyone has bad days, but who wants to deal with someone who’s constantly grumpy, combative or argumentative? A manager to whom I reported a couple of years ago expected me to start each day in a good mood. If I was annoyed or disgruntled about unrelated or personal things, he asked me to leave them at the door. The least we can do to maintain a pleasant environment is to have a good attitude toward our coworkers and clients. Some other important points are listed below:
Feel fresh. Look your best. Smile. Challenge your clients. Create better outcomes because you aren’t settling for average design or average strategies. Creating the best first impression is simple if you have the proper mindset. Exuding positive energy and putting yourself out there is the first step in an establishing a strong client relationship.
Be on top of your game. Be excited and motivated, but not needy. Be responsive, but don’t badger your clients for information or demand commitments to budgets or deadlines. Chances are you are not his or her only business priority, so take a step back and relax.
Be knowledgeable: Spend time getting to know your client’s company, industry and competitors so that you can speak intelligently about projects. Even though I do a good deal of my work remotely, I always place a large importance on in-person introductions and kick-off meetings. It’s good to see a client’s office environment, to meet the team and understand the company culture. All of these things can provide insight into creating successful work that will be appreciated. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I also think it’s nice to get a client out of their office space to discuss work. I love taking a client out for a cup of coffee or a beer to discuss work and find that they relax and open up in a different way when they are not seated in a conference room.
Discover more methods and strategies for building your client base when you enroll in How to Develop & Maintain Effective Client Relationships.