Over the years whilst managing my creative agency I’ve watched the development of strong long lasting client relationships form. Not surprisingly all these relationships have been built on a solid foundation of trust. Building trust with clients to create a strong working relationship is a no-brainer, but how do you manage clients to create this loyalty based on trust?
Our agency has always given our designers a lot of autonomy with our clients, my observation is this is a win-win situation for all. Designers flourish by given the freedom to manage their own projects without being hamstrung by directors and clients love the one on one personalised service, feeling they are closer to the “creative source” so to speak.
Based on this approach we have always ensured our designers have the tools to liaise directly with clients and manage the design process (with our guidance and under our watchful eye). I’ve noticed there are several touch points in creating positive design experiences for our clients, below would be my top five list.
1. Be sure you are clear on client expectations regarding the quality and delivery of your design. Obviously design needs to be error free, well executed and on brief. Thorough briefing is the only way to be clear on the strategic business objectives of the projects you are working on. Good design is only good if it is strategic and relevant.
2. Manage your client’s expectations by keeping communication open, be prompt with feedback and keep a dialogue going. If you find your client is calling you to set up meetings then you are failing to meet their expectations. You should have clear touch points with all new projects to proceed client feedback, this will help you keep control of your projects.
3. Be clear on the value add on your agency provides. Make sure you examine their business and work out how your design will add value. Outline how your creative will communicate your client’s key message, grab attention, instigate a response or sell more products or services.
4. Keep it personal and one on one. Face to face is always going to trump a phone call for building a relationship. That said some of my clients are extremely time poor and prefer an email over a phone call, so it’s important to understand your client and their preference. The important point is to try and pre-empt your client so you are contacting them before they contact you.
5. Jump on issues and problems immediately, this is probably the biggest factor in building a lasting and strong working relationship. The ability to recognise and identify any problems and issues and resolve them quickly is vital in trust building. This pro active approach to problem solving (which can include listening carefully to critical feedback) has been the one major influencer in cementing a solid working relationship with our clients. Nothing builds trust faster than proving you are willing and capable to problem solve design challenges.
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