Working with clients can be tricky at times. I’ve found that clients often have a decent idea of what they want in their head, but struggle to put the idea into words. I don’t meant that they cannot think of the words; they just don’t know how to describe exactly what they mean. I have dealt with this first hand and although it can be incredibly frustrating for all parties, it is important to listen to the client and try to understand what they are saying.
Last spring for one of my classes, we were split into groups of four or five people and paired up with a non-profit organization. The non-profits were picked by the professor and were located all over Illinois. Our task was to work with them throughout the semester and create media for them as needed. The media varied based upon the client. For my group, we were paired with the Illinois Parrot Rescue. Our client needed a website, an updated logo, educational resources, and wanted us to create some fun stickers to hand out. In my opinion, communicating with the client was the hardest part. The client did not have a lot of design experience, which he admitted, so at times it was difficult for him to express what exactly he wanted us to do. The design process was a lot of trial and error. For every one thing he wanted designed, we would whip up multiple ideas so he could pick and choose the aspects he liked and didn’t like. Doing this allowed us to tailor the designs to what he really liked and helped us all grow as designers. Communicating was also hard because we often had to wait around for responses. Our client is the sole person running Illinois Parrot Rescue so he was often extremely busy. He tried to get back to us as quickly as he could, but sometimes we waited awhile. There were times that he was pretty indecisive about what he wanted. He would describe what he wanted, someone would do it, and then he would say that he wanted something else. There were also times that the design he liked the most was the one we all liked the least and vice versa. At the end of the day, we had to listen to the client and design something that he was happy with.
The video above shows how important it is to listen to the client. There is a saying that goes, “the customer is always right.” While I don’t necessarily agree with that, it is definitely important to let your client know that you are listening to what they’re saying. You can see in the video that the consumer is getting frustrated when she realizes that the advertiser is not listening to her. Listening to your client while they’re speaking is just common courtesy. The advertiser in this video does not grant her this courtesy due to the fact he keeps interrupting her. One thing I know my group did well was listen to our client while he was speaking and then wait to bounce ideas back. We would also reiterate what he said back to him to try and make sure we were on the same page.
That semester I was pushed as a designer but also got first hand experience on how to maintain a good client relationship. I also got to be around way more parrots than I wanted, but that’s beside the point. Client relations are not an easy course to navigate, but it needs to be done.