In any relationship, communication is key.
Communicating with your clients can be a daunting thought. Sometimes you get a client with exquisite communication skills, and other times your client may lack the description and timing of getting back to your inquiries.
It’s important in both situations to stay professional in your exchanges and pay attention to the details in the message.
Things get busy, but keeping organized is the key to making sure communication isn’t lost with your client. When working with multiple clients, it is important to keep notes about what you discuss so you can come back to it when it is needed. Many times, you will be working with multiple clients at once. Taking notes for each client, in an organized fashion, will make it easier for you to keep track of who wants what and when.
Every time I onboard a client, I start a fresh folder specific to that client. In that folder is our initial worksheet of what is desired by the client, a copy of our contract and additional notes. I try to avoid sticky notes with clients because they are easily lost or could be placed in the wrong location. Instead, keep a paper with the clients name on it where you can keep ongoing notes and dates of changes, etc. Logging your notes will make it easier when communicating with clients because you will know what they asked for and any additionanl information that was provided to you.
Overcoming Communication Issues with Clients
You will meet clients who are intimidating, slow to respond, and not clear with their directives. It’s not always easy figuring out the best way to approach these situations, but there are ways to help guide these clients while working on their projects.
Dealing with an intimidating client is never a delightful experience. But they are out there and it will happen. While dealing with clients that might seem harsh or difficult to work with, try to keep the communication requests to a minimum but try to collect a massive amount of information up-front. Minimizing the number of communications will certainly be easier on you, and you will have most of the information already in your hands – meaning less uncomfortable interactions you will need to have.
Then there are clients who will be very slow to answer you. This becomes an issue because of your schedule and hitting deadlines. In this case, it’s important to send follow up requests. You don’t need to follow up every day, but I would suggest allowing 48-72 hours before sending a follow-up. Just make the follow-up short and sweet – a one liner like “I was just checking in to see if you received the correspondence below. Thank you!”, will do. If you see this issue will effect your deadline, be sure to remind your client of this and that extension fees (if applicable) will apply.
You will also find clients who do not give you direct instructions. This is troublesome because when it comes down to the designing process, you won’t know where to start or what the final design should look like. For this type of client, I would suggest utilizing a branding board in the initial steps instead of later in the development process.
Of course, all client situations are unique. It is important to keep in mind that communication will never be alike with any two clients. Take time to understand the communication preferences of your client so you can efficiently and effectively communicate to make the process seamless!
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I've been a graphic designer since 2007. I specialize in stationery design and business branding. I've worked with large corporations, small start ups, celebrities and everyone in between. I'd love to chat with you about your upcoming project!
I'm a New Jersey native now living in Pennsylvania with my husband and family. When I'm not designing, I'm usually off on an adventure with my husband and step-son.