Friday, 23 March 2012

Saying No to Clients - Part 2: Client Requests.

The well known phrase ‘the customer is always right’ may work well in the retail sector (to a degree), but it is far from the truth in the design world.

As a designer, you know what does and doesn’t work. You know what will look good and what will look horrid. Unfortunately, your clients don’t always understand the intricacies involved in putting a design together – that is why they hired you after all.

A designer’s job is to find the happy medium between the client’s vision and their own. Learning the art of  saying “No” can make this a whole lot easier, and if you have your client’s best interests at heart, a little explanation will often go a long way when the two of you disagree.

How to Say No to Your Clients Design Requests

Be Professional.
Firstly, ensure that you’re saying no for a professional reason and not a personal one. Having a dislike for a certain colour, font (shudder at the thought of Comic Sans) or design element is not sufficient grounds to deny a clients request. It is perfectly acceptable to say “No” if you believe the request is against the client’s best interest.

Have Good Reasons.
It can be difficult to justify why you are saying “No”, and turning down a client’s request is even harder. The key is to have done the research before hand. Discuss the implications of how the changes may affect customer’s perceptions, the budget, deadlines and anything you feel the requests could have a negative impact on.

Build Good Relationships.
If the client has being doing business with you for a long time, and trusts your professional opinion, then discussing any issues will be easier than if they were a new client. However, if you still disagree, think carefully before completely refusing them. If you can’t find a compromise, are you willing to lose a long standing client over a design disagreement?

Don’t Reject the Little Guy Out-Of-Hand.
Many designers look at new clients as an entirely different entity. If there isn’t much potential for more work, they may dismiss them out-of-hand. If the new client is a large company, many designers will swallow their pride and let the client get their way for the prospect of new work.

While there is nothing wrong with this approach, it isn’t always the best idea to presume that ‘small’ clients won’t bring in new business. Small clients have the potential to grow, and with that growth, comes new business opportunities. So don’t dismiss the little guy. If you go out of your way to help these smaller clients, whilst still politely making them aware of why you don’t like an idea, then they will give you great free marketing by word of mouth. Unless you can afford to take on only the big, less frequent clients, make sure you don’t treat your smaller clients badly.

Final Thoughts:

Remember - you are an expert in your field, and that’s why your client employed you. However, they are the expert in their field, so it pays to listen to them before you completely write off their ideas.

Next time a client suggests something you don’t agree with, try saying “No”. By agreeing with your clients all the time, you’re not doing justice to yourself, your work or your client.

For you to truly understand what your client is asking for, and why they want it, talk to them! Once again, communication is the key to success.

What have your experiences been with saying “No” to clients?
Have you gotten over the fear of saying "No" or do you still say "Yes" to everyone and then regret it over and over and over again?

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