Design insights & tutorials.

12 Tips for Flawless Service & Happy Clients

12 tips for improving your e-mail correspondence with your design clients.
flawless service
Hey true believers! At Go Media we’ve started having in-house “classes.” Basically any designer from Go Media that has some good advice to pass along to the staff will schedule a time to do a quick presentation. Everyone in the office can choose to attend the mini-class to learn something.

This past Monday I did a mini-class I called “Flawless Service.” The class was nothing more than me reading through every e-mail I had with a client for one particular project. Some of what I do during my correspondence with a client is nothing new to my staff. But some of it was, and it only took a second.
I can’t actually SHOW you the correspondence I had, but I did type up this quick list of the sorts of things I naturally do during a normal engagement with a client. I thought I could share it with you. It’s really just common sense, but a quick reminder never hurt.

1. Establish your contact and means by which you’re going to communicate. Clearly Identify who you are, how you are in contact and provide your contact info. It’s also VERY useful to force the client to pick one “leader” if there will be a number of individuals giving feedback. Make them all report to their leader, then that leader can provide one piece of clear feedback to you.

2. Establish the details of the job. What is the deadline? What format is this design to be delivered in? Are there proof deadlines? Make a schedule if necessary. I know this is elementary stuff here, but I still think some designers don’t do a thorough enough job collecting all the details of a job. Err on the side of asking too many questions.

make small talk with your client3. Develop a rapport with the client. I frequently find myself talking with clients about things wholly unrelated to the project at hand. If I find out that a client is a Spider-Man fan – I can’t help but discuss why I think he’s the best super hero. Sometimes it’s about business, jogging, or whatever. Anything that piques my interest will be a conversation point. Feel free to engage the client in conversation of interest. Establish common ground, make jokes, whatever. This will endear you to the client, make you friends with them. This fundamentally changes the way a client works with you. Now, they’re rooting for you, helping you, they WANT you to succeed. They CARE about you. Because they feel like they know you. I really do this a lot.

make sure the client understands your value4. Make sure the client understands the VALUE of what you’re doing, particularly if discounting your rates in any way. This has to be done with extreme subtlety and tact. Saying something like: “Dude, you are sooooo lucky to be working with me. I normally charge three times this much.” Will simply not cut it. But if you find an opportunity to slip in the value of what you’re doing without sounding like a jerk – take it.

5. Make them laugh, or at least smile. I try my best to slip in a joke or silly comment into my e-mails. If you can make a client laugh, you’ve absolutely endeared yourself to them.

6. Make a schedule and stick to it. Clients appreciate punctuality. If you take the lead in setting up a schedule and you hit your deadlines – you’re as good as gold to them. Don’t forget – the emphasis needs to be on the “…sticking to it…” part. If you make a schedule only to miss all the deadlines you’ve set, you’ll only be punctuating your own failures.

7. Carbon copy all interested parties. If there are other people who need to be kept “in the loop” then make sure you CC them on every single e-mail. I’ve made the mistake of leaving people out of the daily correspondence. The results are always a mistake that could have been easily avoided.

give them something for free8. Give them options, but make sure you also give them what they asked for too. If you’re going to do something outside of the requested design – make sure you give them what they asked for too. This is very important. The client shouldn’t feel like they have to ask twice, or fight with you to get something. You CAN make a concerted effort to educate and pitch them on a different idea. But I would probably do this in a phone conversation. And reassure them that they will get what they want in the end.

9. Repost their feedback along with your revised proofs. When posting revisions – if they’ve given me a check list, I will often type back their check-list to them, and include little comments. This way they absolutely know I’m listening to and following their directions.

10. Up sell when things are going well. Now, Go Media is not a hard-sales kind of company. But when things are going very well and the relationship has been established, I will take the opportunity to let them know about other services that we have available. It might be something as simple as this: “If you ever need any web design, we do that too!”

give them something for free11. Give them a little something for free. This is usually in the form of consulting. But it can be a real quick design project too. Here are two examples of things I might say/do: “I was thinking about your project last night and had a good idea for your new product…” Or “I noticed that your logo was a low resolution jpeg. I took a minute to vectorize it and output a high-res version for you. I’ve attached those files – no charge.”

12. Say Thank You. Nothing is more powerful than a well timed and sincere thank-you.

And with that, I want to thank you for taking the time to read this post. I hope you learned something.

About the Author, William Beachy

I grew up in Cleveland Hts. Ohio and was drawing constantly. As a child I took art classes at the Cleveland Institute of Art and eventually became known as the "class artist." I graduated from The Ohio State University's department of Industrial Design. I have always tried to blend my passion for illustration with Graphic Design. Go Media was the culmination of my interests for both business and art. I'm trying to build a company that is equally considerate of our designers AND our clients.
Discover More by William Beachy

Discussion

We want to hear what you have to say. Do you agree? Do you have a better way to approach the topic? Let the community know by joining the discussion.

  • http://twitter.com/jeff_finley/statuses/1088602477 jeff_finley (Jeff Finley)

    Then he wrote this article about 12 tips for Flawless Service. http://tinyurl.com/7ddkml he’s so smart haha

  • http://twitter.com/jeff_finley/statuses/1088602477 jeff_finley (Jeff Finley)

    Then he wrote this article about 12 tips for Flawless Service. http://tinyurl.com/7ddkml he’s so smart haha

  • http://twitter.com/twodayslate/statuses/1088604536 twodayslate (://)

    RT @jeff_finley hen he wrote this article about 12 tips for Flawless Service. http://tinyurl.com/7ddkml he’s so smart haha

  • http://twitter.com/twodayslate/statuses/1088604536 twodayslate (://)

    RT @jeff_finley hen he wrote this article about 12 tips for Flawless Service. http://tinyurl.com/7ddkml he’s so smart haha

  • http://twitter.com/Go_Media/statuses/1088610614 Go_Media (Go Media)

    New blog post: 12 tips for flawless service and happy clients – http://tinyurl.com/7ddkml

  • http://twitter.com/Go_Media/statuses/1088610614 Go_Media (Go Media)

    New blog post: 12 tips for flawless service and happy clients – http://tinyurl.com/7ddkml

  • http://gomedia.us Wilson

    So can we see the design you did?

  • http://gomedia.us Wilson

    So can we see the design you did?

  • http://mark.poppen.ca Mark

    Great tips, especially #3, except you have to be really be careful with that one. If they think you’re becoming their friend, they might ask you for more favors, or expect a discount because you are.
    It’s good to relate to the client and get to know them better, so you understand better what they want, but there is a line you shouldn’t cross. They’re still your client.

  • http://twitter.com/mlane/statuses/1088625150 mlane (Mike Lane)

    12 tips for improving e-mail correspondence with design clients – http://bit.ly/39rh

  • http://twitter.com/mlane/statuses/1088625150 mlane (Mike Lane)

    12 tips for improving e-mail correspondence with design clients – http://bit.ly/39rh

  • http://mark.poppen.ca Mark

    Great tips, especially #3, except you have to be really be careful with that one. If they think you’re becoming their friend, they might ask you for more favors, or expect a discount because you are.
    It’s good to relate to the client and get to know them better, so you understand better what they want, but there is a line you shouldn’t cross. They’re still your client.

  • http://www.chrisobriendesign.com chris ob

    That is a great list. I agree wholeheartedly. I think I would add that it’s important to be professional as well as personable. I think the client needs to enjoy working with you but also respect you as a designer / web developer / whatever you do.

    I’ve seen at past jobs that if the client doesn’t value what you are doing for them, they are much more likely to take advantage of you, whether it is stiffing the bill, taking your design elsewhere, etc.
    It also seems that it’s usually those client who “just need something quick” and are looking for the lowest price around.

    Some of those issues can be addressed by how you present yourself and your company, and by taking deposits, having contracts, etc. But those are topics for another post altogether. Whaddaya say Bill?

  • http://www.chrisobriendesign.com chris ob

    That is a great list. I agree wholeheartedly. I think I would add that it’s important to be professional as well as personable. I think the client needs to enjoy working with you but also respect you as a designer / web developer / whatever you do.

    I’ve seen at past jobs that if the client doesn’t value what you are doing for them, they are much more likely to take advantage of you, whether it is stiffing the bill, taking your design elsewhere, etc.
    It also seems that it’s usually those client who “just need something quick” and are looking for the lowest price around.

    Some of those issues can be addressed by how you present yourself and your company, and by taking deposits, having contracts, etc. But those are topics for another post altogether. Whaddaya say Bill?

  • http://www.gomedia.us Bill

    Wilson – no, you cannot. We were subcontracted for this project. So we need to hide our identity.

  • http://www.gomedia.us Bill

    Wilson – no, you cannot. We were subcontracted for this project. So we need to hide our identity.

  • http://twitter.com/visualrhetor/statuses/1088635119 visualrhetor (visualrhetor)

    RT: @mlane: 12 tips for improving e-mail correspondence with design clients – http://bit.ly/39rh

  • http://twitter.com/visualrhetor/statuses/1088635119 visualrhetor (visualrhetor)

    RT: @mlane: 12 tips for improving e-mail correspondence with design clients – http://bit.ly/39rh

  • http://www.gomedia.us Bill

    Chris ob,

    That’s funny! I’m actually working on a post called: “Don’t be a whore.” It’s mostly about how NOT to be taken advantage of.

    You already hit on a few of them. Expect that some time next year… :)

  • http://www.gomedia.us Bill

    Chris ob,

    That’s funny! I’m actually working on a post called: “Don’t be a whore.” It’s mostly about how NOT to be taken advantage of.

    You already hit on a few of them. Expect that some time next year… :)

  • http://www.minervity.com Richard Andersson

    Good solid pointers of correspondence! I think having a proffesional approach to the entire subject is really a key on the “keeping of a client”.

    You guys always have solid reads! Like em alot!

    Thanks and have a great New Year!!!
    R.

  • http://www.minervity.com Richard Andersson

    Good solid pointers of correspondence! I think having a proffesional approach to the entire subject is really a key on the “keeping of a client”.

    You guys always have solid reads! Like em alot!

    Thanks and have a great New Year!!!
    R.

  • http://twitter.com/daveconrey/statuses/1088707605 daveconrey (Dave Conrey)

    Another good article, this time about client service by the Go Media team: http://tinyurl.com/7ddkml

  • http://twitter.com/daveconrey/statuses/1088707605 daveconrey (Dave Conrey)

    Another good article, this time about client service by the Go Media team: http://tinyurl.com/7ddkml

  • adrian

    yup

  • adrian

    yup

  • http://thecosmonaut.com TheCosmonaut

    Well said, Bill. I have to say – most often people only get part of this list, but I’m impressed that you’ve nailed pretty much the core tenants I’ve learned from over a decade in the industry. I’m particularly impressed that you hit #9 — I do it every time I hand anything to them and it’s surprising how reassuring it is for clients!

    Great article — serious thumbs-up!

    Best,

    –eric

  • http://thecosmonaut.com TheCosmonaut

    Well said, Bill. I have to say – most often people only get part of this list, but I’m impressed that you’ve nailed pretty much the core tenants I’ve learned from over a decade in the industry. I’m particularly impressed that you hit #9 — I do it every time I hand anything to them and it’s surprising how reassuring it is for clients!

    Great article — serious thumbs-up!

    Best,

    –eric

  • http://twitter.com/scopley/statuses/1090566636 scopley (Sean Copley)

    great tips for those of us in service oriented work:
    http://tinyurl.com/7ddkml

  • http://twitter.com/scopley/statuses/1090566636 scopley (Sean Copley)

    great tips for those of us in service oriented work:
    http://tinyurl.com/7ddkml

  • http://twitter.com/Earl52/statuses/1090612632 Earl52 (Earl Gray)

    RT @scopley great tips for those of us in service oriented work: http://tinyurl.com/7ddkml

  • http://twitter.com/Earl52/statuses/1090612632 Earl52 (Earl Gray)

    RT @scopley great tips for those of us in service oriented work: http://tinyurl.com/7ddkml

  • http://www.jasperwiese.com jasper

    Great list

  • http://www.jasperwiese.com jasper

    Great list

  • Krystian

    Great tips!

    Added to PSD Showcase

    just to let you know…

  • Krystian

    Great tips!

    Added to PSD Showcase

    just to let you know…

  • Mike

    Once again you have given us some great advice. And in the spirit of #12 thank you. Keep up the good work in 2009!

  • Pingback: 12 Tips for Flawless Service & Happy Clients | Create Your Own T Shirt Blog

  • Mike

    Once again you have given us some great advice. And in the spirit of #12 thank you. Keep up the good work in 2009!

  • Paul Harris

    Hi Bill,

    Thanks for the tips! I’m also looking forward to your “don’t be a whore post”, because I’ve found myself feeling like I’d been taken advantage of a few times also. I’m just an amature at graphic/web design and do it mostly for fun. I’d like to do it to make a little cash on the side (I’m a fulltime biochemistry student), but I haven’t been having great experiences with freelancer websites like scriptlance and rentacoder and such. Any tips for the newbe?

  • Paul Harris

    Hi Bill,

    Thanks for the tips! I’m also looking forward to your “don’t be a whore post”, because I’ve found myself feeling like I’d been taken advantage of a few times also. I’m just an amature at graphic/web design and do it mostly for fun. I’d like to do it to make a little cash on the side (I’m a fulltime biochemistry student), but I haven’t been having great experiences with freelancer websites like scriptlance and rentacoder and such. Any tips for the newbe?

  • http://twitter.com/AtlastDave/statuses/1097557507 AtlastDave (Dave Cardoza)

    Get 2009 started right with clients: http://tinyurl.com/7ddkml

  • http://twitter.com/AtlastDave/statuses/1097557507 AtlastDave (Dave Cardoza)

    Get 2009 started right with clients: http://tinyurl.com/7ddkml

  • http://www.gomedia.us Jeff Finley

    Good post Bill!

  • http://www.gomedia.us Jeff Finley

    Good post Bill!

  • Tim

    nice post. definately some smart tips in there

  • Tim

    nice post. definately some smart tips in there

  • http://maiconweb.com Maicon

    precious tips.

  • http://maiconweb.com Maicon

    precious tips.

  • http://www.blog.mookiedesign.com cam

    i agree with the free consulting part. i usually do that without thinking about it and it helps the client realize you actually know what you are talking about it. lol

  • http://www.blog.mookiedesign.com cam

    i agree with the free consulting part. i usually do that without thinking about it and it helps the client realize you actually know what you are talking about it. lol

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  • http://www.visual-blade.com Daquan Wright

    Impressive array of things to remember when dealing with clients. It being basic makes no bearing on it, since the basics are always essential.

  • http://www.visual-blade.com Daquan Wright

    Impressive array of things to remember when dealing with clients. It being basic makes no bearing on it, since the basics are always essential.

  • http://forthelose.org Wordpress Themes

    I liked that one point about giving something small for free. It is a nice little touch that won’t go unnoticed. I’ll look for ways to do that in future projects.

  • http://forthelose.org Wordpress Themes

    I liked that one point about giving something small for free. It is a nice little touch that won’t go unnoticed. I’ll look for ways to do that in future projects.

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  • http://www.jmc-website-design.co.uk/ Jason

    A very interesting article, and amazing that applying just a few of these little points can really make a difference, and make a much more enjoyable working relationship for both parties. And a happy client always refers you to more clients. Rinse and repeat!

  • http://www.harmonlegal.net/ Arizona bankruptcy lawyer

    Making small talk and joke telling is my favorite point. Nice article.

  • Dan

    Excellent job..
    dizi izle

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