What I’ve noticed is that it doesn’t matter how much you try to hide that you think something sucks, people can sense it. If you feel like that, ask yourself: why am I doing this job? This post is basically some random thoughts about customer relations, but, in depth, about unselfishness and about confronting people the right way.
Next time when you are in a meeting and you notice that instead of trying to solve your clients problems you are dreaming about the beautiful sunsets of Rio, ask yourself why am I here? Why am I not interested? And why is this customer paying me?
We all have times when we are tired or a bit down, but mostly that is a question of attitude. If you are working with someone and doing work for them, you most likely should be actively there.
So what if it’s hard? The customer is bitching [yeah, using the word ‘bitching’] about the last campaign being boring, or the great fair department you designed [you thought was soo cool] was stated ‘Really awful’? How can you ever work with people like that?
Well, sometimes it can be like that but think about this; would you rather fight or be pleasant?
What else, than just small time satisfaction, you get out of fighting or whining? In the worst case the client leaves and tells everyone he or she meets that you are a very hard person to work with.
Some may want to have a reputation like that, but then you have to be a top notch designer, and most likely there’s no use to be an asshole then either.
So what to do if you want to be a greater person to meet? One simple exercise can be this:
Act as if meeting new people and clients, and the old ones too, were a game. A game where you, no matter what happens, cannot loose your good feeling or thoughts or the control of the situation. No matter what. And in addition: you have to keep smiling the whole time.
As in many other play based learning styles, you will eventually turn from ‘acting’ to ‘being’, and you may end up liking what you used to hate. One of the biggest reasons people state so eagerly “I hate to do thing X” is that they are afraid. So, dare to jump and see what happens.
And also, if you are in the advertising/creative/whatever business, it’s easy to give something more to the client than he or she expects. Actually, a lot more. You have a room of possibilities, because you are “from the ad agency”. Even something strange isn’t that strange from you, because you are “creative”.
It doesn’t have to be anything that special or over the top. Usually the small things matter. You don’t have to take your pet wolf to a meeting or dress as Elvis, but you can, and most likely they won’t change the agency. If an accountant would do that, he would be kicked to the kingdom come. But not Mr. or Ms. Ad Person.
But back to the point. Friendliness, open mindedness and being interested can most likely be enough. Unfortunately, they aren’t that common anymore, and people who can be like that, will prevail.
In order to dive deep into your clients world, you have to be interested about your client and what they are doing. They aren’t just an account nor those who just bring the money to the house.
Also, offer them more. If you have fallen to the awful ravine of just executing tasks, stop! They will see it in your work and in the meetings. If they come up with the ideas, and you just implement them, they can get someone else to do it cheaper. So, be a step ahead.
Basically, if you for some reasons won’t like meetings or are intimated about them, remember this: Everyone is a client, and almost everyone is a service person. It’s only a matter of place and time, when the roles change. So apply the golden rule and enjoy the both parties.
P.S. Can you ever find a more awful picture than that one up there? Please fellow designers out there, don’t ever ever offer image bank pictures like that. And if your customer forces you to put an image like that, forget what you read in this post and tell him how it is!