Clear Communication4:10 with Paul Boag
Clear communication is one of the most important parts of a designer's job. In this video, Paul offers advice on how best to communicate, even when the news for the client is bad.
If you want to keep your clients happy, talk to them. 0:00 That's such an important part of good customer services. Clear communication. 0:03 And it really is something you need to pay attention to. 0:09 I once saw a tweet from a very well-known and well-respected web designer 0:12 whose name shall remain nameless who said, "What does my client want from me? 0:16 For me to build them a website or for me to e-mail them?" 0:22 The truth is, a client wants both and you need to suck that up. 0:25 You need to communicate regularly with your clients 0:30 and you still need to be building them their website as well. 0:33 One of the most important aspects of communicating 0:38 with a client is to be regular. 0:41 Contact them every week irrespective of whether you've done anything. 0:43 Even if your call is just to say, "Hey, just to let you know. 0:48 I haven't been working on your project this week. 0:52 I've been working on another project, but it's absolutely fine. 0:54 I've got time scheduled in next week. 0:57 This is part of the plan, and I'm still going to be delivering on time." 0:59 They would prefer to hear from you even if you have nothing to say to them. 1:02 Because otherwise, they're going to wonder, 1:08 and you don't want clients wondering. 1:10 If they start wondering, they start worrying. 1:13 If they start worrying, then they start micromanaging. 1:16 And that is not something any of us want. 1:18 Another important factor with communication 1:23 is the medium through which you communicate. 1:25 Let's be honest. We're all geeks. 1:27 And as geeks, we love e-mail and we love IM and we love BaseCamp. 1:30 In fact, we love any medium which doesn't require us to actually talk to people. 1:36 And so the result of that is that client's get frustrated because they're not like us. 1:40 Some of them do like to actually talk to you on the phone. 1:48 So what you've got to do is use the medium that's most appropriate to them. 1:52 If they like using BaseCamp, hell, use BaseCamp. 1:56 If they like using e-mail, then yeah sure use e-mail. 1:59 But if not, then you need to be using what they like and not what you like. 2:02 With communication, always tell the truth even if the client does not want to hear it. 2:07 You're much better off limiting their expectations 2:14 so that you can later surpass them 2:17 than you are to essentially lie to the client. 2:19 The trouble is we don't intentionally lie to them, right? 2:23 Let's say there's a deadline that's coming up. 2:28 And we're beginning to wonder whether or not we're going to meet that deadline. 2:31 And we go, "It's okay. I'm going to make the time off. 2:36 I'm going to work over the weekend and I'll get it done 2:38 because I don't want to let this client down." 2:40 And so we work weekends and we still sleep in and deadline's getting closer. 2:42 And it's all getting full but no we're going to do it. 2:47 We'll work. We'll work through the night to get it done in time. 2:50 And then eventually, we fail. 2:53 And we've lied to the client. 2:56 We told them everything's going to be all right and it isn't. 2:58 We've given them a nasty surprise 3:00 and as I've said before, we don't want to surprise clients. 3:03 They don't like that. 3:07 So, if you're worried about meeting a deadline. 3:09 If you perceive that there might even possibly 3:13 be a problem with the project, tell the client. 3:15 You're better off telling them and lowering their expectations 3:19 and then everything turning out all right and the client goes away happy 3:22 than you are leaving them with a nasty surprise. 3:27 Meet with your clients often, will you? 3:29 Take the time to go and meet with them. When failing that, use the phone. 3:32 Make sure that you're engaging with them personally 3:37 because it will really help the communication 3:42 and the relationship between you and the client. 3:44 That said, when you do meet them or if you do have phone calls with them, 3:47 make sure you keep notes and records of what's been said too 3:51 and repeat that back to the client. 3:55 Having a written record is often very useful when things go wrong. 3:57 So communication is vitally important 4:00 and it should be considered a fundamental part of your job as a web designer. 4:04
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