Customer Relations

An important part of any business is having a good relationship with the client. I know from personal experience some parts of this process. During my first internship, I sat in on meetings with our client. We were building a new website to replace the current one which had been operating since the early days of the internet. Much of the code was written in a language called ASP which is an alternative to HTML. The meetings often consisted of us trying to get ahold of the person who made the original website, I don’t believe they ever joined the call, and some key members of ISBE, the website owners, telling us what they thought of the current build of the site or asking us if we can add something. ISBE tended to have relatively realistic expectations of a website and it had to meet certain government regulations due to it being a state education website. They wanted it responsive and they knew that we knew what to do so they never really imposed any designs on us. Another thing that improved our relationship, at least in my mind, was that we had a few employees working on site at their end to help things transition smoothly. 

On my second internship, I was part of a small team rebuilding an existing website while another small team built a web app for the same company. This was for a company that made teachers resources. There was a more strained relationship between the teams and our client this time. they gave us some colors that went together well enough and they even made a mock-up of what they wanted their site to look like. The problem was the typical case of “you’re the expert, but I’m always right” that you see in pop culture and that Deloy mentioned in class. We would have two calls per week where we would try to get them to change their mind about the styling of the site but they always pushed back. I remember times where the whole team would shake their heads because the client would just repeat the same things we’d say and act like it was their idea. In the end we just made the site exactly like they wanted it. we pushed it live and then asked them what they thought. It came as no surprise that they disliked it and requested that we take over design and make a responsive, modern website. The design they picked made liberal use of gradients and buttons with tons of drop shadow. The site ended up looking vastly different than the one I worked on over the summer. 

Those are my personal experiences but I’ve heard about quite a few different ways to maintain customer relations from my Dad and other people that work with him. Back when I was little, Dad and another guy from the business, John, would play golf with major clients and competitors. Another classic technique is the tried and true “take them out to lunch” method. This method works wonders on employee relations too. another thing I’ve seen is that the company will often times send more charismatic employees to on site installations. The employees are well trained before hand but this is to ensure everything goes as smooth as possible. I believe Deloy also mentioned something similar to this earlier in the semester. He used to Go do on site work even though he had employees because he didn’t trust them in front of customers. To sum this rant up, having a decent relationship with clients is about maintaining trust in each others abilities. The client needs to trust the people they’ve hired and the people hired need to maintain and not betray that trust.