How to Deal with Any Type of Client

March 13, 2013
4 min read
4 min read

Happy clients, seemingly sadistic clients and clueless clients. As a designer, you’ve no doubt seen them all, but what’s the best kind? Most of your contemporaries would agree it’s the client who agrees with you.

There are things you can do to help yourself when you have such a diverse range of clients, so read on for some tips that will pay off in the long run.

First Impressions Count

So, you’ve nailed the first meeting with the client and now you’re about to meet them. First impressions do count and science even says so.

Studies such as those done at Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business have gone on to show that getting off on a good foot matters, as it’s important to build lasting trust from the onset in any kind of relationship, business included. From a psychological point of view, an issue in a relationship is easier to forgive in the future when that relationship is more established.

Ok, you probably won’t have huge issues with your client, but where we’re coming from with this is if you made a design the client never liked, or if there was a disagreement, they’ll be more forgiving towards you and willing to let you amend your errors to their liking, instead of just going to someone else.

So, here’s a quick list of a few things to bear in mind when meeting a client for the first time:

  • Dress smartly but for the situation; if you’ve arranged a more informal meeting, then you could probably get away with smart casual. If you’re going to the client’s working office, expect to wear a full suit and vice versa.
  • Take some professionally printed business cards. As a designer, your cards will be thought of as reflecting your skills, so they have to look great.
  • When you meet make eye contact, smile, shake hands, and offer the client a beverage unless you’re at their office, in which case just accept.
  • Get straight to the point and start conversing with the client about what they’re looking for, so you can start to build a mental picture up of what they need. Take down notes on paper – it shows you’re listening and taking them seriously.

The first few minutes are fundamental – this is when the client will likely decide whether or not they’d like to pay for your services.

The Portfolio

Be prepared with an outstanding portfolio of past work you’ve done for your clients. You can create a one off portfolio tailored to the particular client, but it’s important to include a breadth of your design work.

When you present your portfolio to your client, make sure each piece of work has a context to it; you want to impress your client with how you followed your past clients’ briefs and how you come to a final design.

Include a case study from beginning to end; this will show the client how professional you are at working through a series of problems to arrive at a solution on a commercial level. Include prices and timeframes to show you possess these skills too.

When you get your portfolio work printed, use professional printers. Using a reputable local printing company will help to reduce costs, ensure quality, and guarantee a reliable service.

Aim to include about 20 pieces in your portfolio and add an index for those who will view it.

The On-Going Client Relationship

You might be surprised to learn that after the initial meeting and after you’ve actually got the job, your work is still cut out with the client. They’re the customer and they pay your wages, so you still have to be professional.

Really simple things can go a long way; speaking clearly and politely on the phone, calling out of the blue once a week just to ask the client how they’re actually doing is definitely good.

A regular email to keep your client posted about what’s going on and what level you’re at with the project is a good way to show how keen you are, and that they’re getting their money’s worth.

When all is said and done, out of all the clients you could have – happy ones, evil ones, and clueless ones – they pay your wages so you must be willing to remain attentive, polite, and professional.

Keep them happy and they’ll keep giving you work.

Photo Credit to Dvortygirl

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Charlton works as a graphic designer and copywriter for Minuteman Press in the US. Having got into design over a decade ago, he’s had more clients than hot meals. For more information on Minuteman Press: http://www.shop.minutemanpress.com/
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