5 Qualities Clients Covet in a Designer
Knowing the in’s and out’s of design is great, but a designer needs these skills to keep clients happy and stay competitive.
Years ago I was doing contract design work for an agency in Texas. I started designing at the same time as a few other contractors did and worked regularly for them for a few years up until I moved.
As time passed the other contractors started dropping off. After a few months went by and I was talking to my project manager about a project, I asked what happened to the other designers, as some of their work was better than mine. Her response made me realize how customer service and client relations can really mean more than skill. She said “Brian, these guys had great skill, but one had such a bad attitude when it came to revisions, the other it was difficult to get into meetings and be punctual and flexible about work. We stopped using them.”
Over the years working directly with clients, agencies and even working in an agency I’ve come to realize how powerful and meaningful these few skills really are.
1. Being Reliable
This is the absolute number 1 quality every designer needs. Being there for your clients when they need you. It sounds like a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how often I hear this, from clients, agencies and even fellow contractors. Everyone has deadlines, and when a designer drops off the map, becomes hard to reach, or doesn’t finish work it can be a nightmare for the people that hire them. If you have issues or there may be problems completing the work, let clients know or help them give the work to someone else.
Some years back I worked with a designer who just wouldn’t listen to a client’s requests. She’d get a brief from a client that would request specific things from a design and would go off on a completely different tangent. Her mentality was she was the designer and knew best. While I can understand that thought, she never realized first & foremost your goal is to satisfy the client. If a client is really doing something terrible, it’s best to advise them in a professional capacity instead of just completely disregarding them. Don’t make your clients feel stupid, make them feel empowered and part of the process.
3. Be Flexible
This is sort of an offshoot of “Listen”. Clients – no matter if they are agencies or businesses have 100 different things to worry about. Clients appreciate designers who can try to work around their schedule. That being said don’t let a client or agency take advantage of you, you have deadlines and schedules too – just remember these guys pay your bills.
Sometimes clients have a snapshot in their head of exactly what they want. Sometimes it may be brilliant, other times not so much. At the end of the day your job is to give them something that will make them happy. With that being said the client does not always know best so gently give them feedback and your professional advice on a design. Ultimately you are trying to help them communicate their vision to customers. Any design or project should be a team effort with the client feeling like they had a place in the creation, but with you steering the ship with your expert advice.
5. Be Creative
Of course, last but not least is thinking outside the box and creating impactful, attractive designs. You may think that this is the number one thing, but believe me you can have the greatest designs in the world but if you lack the other qualities you’ll find clients slowly stop using you – and if you don’t have clients, what’s the point?
Just keep a “client-centric” mindset when interacting with your customers and you’ll find yourself inundated with repeat business.