Client relationships, like all relationships, are complicated and personal. Even when an initial request from a new prospect is small, they can start a working relationship that lasts many years.
While the pursuit of customer service is to keep a customer happy, there can sometimes be a gap between what the client wants, and what they need. The gap here is trust. A strong, mutual trust.
Bridging this gap with existing relationships can be hard, but by understanding these 2 truths, we can focus on finding the right client upfront:
1) A client knows more about their business (and ideally their industry) than we do. It's expected that the client can clearly explain what it is they do and describe who currently chooses to spend money with them. A client must deeply understand their market, their message and their underlying values. In an ideal world, they will even know, with total clarity, who their ideal customer is. They should know why people want what they have to offer and have an idea of why people would consider their product/service over a competitor.
When a client does not know these answers or they are unable to express them clearly, then they have a problem bigger than what design alone can fix. These problems can only be fixed with strategic consulting or coaching.
If we fail to uncover this, we miss out on much larger opportunities. If we choose to take on this work, we can only make a surface-level impact.
2) We, as industry experts, know more about design and marketing than our client. We should know how design works and how it is used to achieve something more than simply looking good. We should know how to use visual communication to deliver the right message to the right people at the right time. We should know more about design principles than our clients, and what design choices such as colour and shape inform and imply. We should know how to capture the minds and hearts of an audience. And most importantly, as a professional, we represent our client's customer, so we can create and present unbiased solutions that we know will achieve their intended business goal.
When a client believes they have a better eye design or a greater knowledge of visual communication and marketing than us, we become nothing more than a tool that performs tasks on command.
If we fail to reject this work, our time will be taken up by low-value tasks. If we choose to accept this type of work, we will miss out on larger opportunities where we will be seen as an expert.
When you present yourself as knowing more about how a client's business should work, it is unlikely they will see you as an expert. If a client cannot see you as the expert, who can guide them to achieve their goals, you will be left with a relationship that is frustrating and uninspiring.
When taking on a new client we need to assess more than if they are just a financial fit, but also a personal fit.