Defining Customer Service in Graphic Design

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History has rewarded the graphic designer for being aloof, elusive, and eccentric. Unpredictability in both pricing and productivity, slavery to sudden fits of mis-communcation, and being too creative to play well with others are all reasons why we don’t fit well into today’s corporate reality.

If success and freedom as a freelancer is your goal, it may be time to make yourself aware of the common stereotypes associated with the Graphic Design industry.

Creativity is Not King

It’s certainly not something you hear very often and as a graphic designer it’s probably a statement that makes you cringe. More importantly than the level of creativity and innovation you bring to the table, your biggest asset is your ability to meet and exceed the expectations of your client. Although a wise client with submit to your professional direction, it’s important that you are willing to swallow your pride and sacrifice creative elements if it makes your client happy with the work you produce on their behalf. As a designer, despite your desire to excel creativity, when it comes to providing great customer service, your client is king.

Pick up your Phone

It’s tempting to get in a groove and isolate yourself until you are happy with a final result. Resist this temptation. Be aware that the level of service you offer is influenced by the accessibility you provide for your clients to ask questions and receive status updates. Return e-mails and voice mail within 1 business day and establish a reputation of being reachable the majority of the time. Be proactive in your efforts to be a good communicator and call a client before they call you, in doing so you will ensure your client feels respected and in control of their marketing efforts.

Make Sure the Price is Right

In addition to the uncertainty faced by business people to easily access creative professionals in a timely manner, the worrisome subject of cost is also a difficult issue often encountered. Before you present pricing, ensure you have your information organized and accurate. On larger projects where subcontractors or outside suppliers are involved, be sure you outline the scope of the project clearly to your client and the establish the responsibilities of each supplier you choose to work with. Receive written quotes for printing, development or writing and issue your proposal in writing as well. Do not make vague estimates a part of your quotation process. Take billing seriously, even as seriously as eating the extra cost of a project if you go over budget. By absorbing a small amount of money here and there, issuing an invoice that matches a proposal is far better than losing the trust of a client. I think you would expect the same in any other purchasing situation and by adopting this perspective, it will encourage you to be more careful with your numbers.

Nice to Meet You

Virtual tools make working together easy. If you work with clients that are not local, take advantage of technology to communicate well. If you find yourself working with a client who does work close by, make time, when it’s appropriate to meet over coffee, get proof sign-off in person, or even deliver a final printed product once in a while. By making yourself a part of your clients’ reality, you are making a case for a continuing business relationship. As technology makes working with anyone, anywhere a viable option, your local presence may be the reason a client is comfortable working with you.

Spell Check

Good grammar and spelling are often overlooked in favour of correcting pre-flighting issues or troubleshooting interactive elements. Especially in print design, one word spelled correctly can be the difference between success and epic failure. By using spell check often and paying attention to the little things, your client will never know just how close they were to being unsatisfied.

Every graphic designer is creative. Being creative and knowing what your clients expect in terms of customers service will give you the edge you need to compete and succeed as a Graphic Designer.