Resources & Inspiration for the Artistically Curious
As designers, it’s our job to communicate efficiently and effectively.
Sometimes instances arise when we feel anxiety to respond to clients or co-workers because we aren’t necessarily sure we have the appropriate answers. In those instances it is important to remember that not everyone always has the correct responses to tough questions, and in those moments we need to demonstrate a sophisticated level of professionalism. It may seem easy to ignore a question until you do have the answer, but the more courteous and professional response is to at least give some feedback. No one should be left in the dark. Even if it’s not “convenient for you”, you have to remember that you exist and work in a world full of other people existing and also working. Keep the lines of communication open and your responsiveness will be rewarded in kind.
I’ve taken the liberty of putting together some hypothetical situations and some appropriate responses that you may use or adjust as you see fit.
REMEMBER: that in this industry your next job can come from anywhere and keeping a long list of clients with positive attitudes towards you can carry you farther than any amazing portfolio could.
If you don’t know how much to charge:
CLIENT: “What’s this going to cost me?” (This comes in a lot of variations so be prepared).
DESIGNER: “I’m working that out at the moment. I will get back to you once I’ve had a moment to:
a) go over my schedule b) look at my expenses c) calculate an estimate”
If you don’t know how long something is going to take (be it revisions or initial design):
CLIENT: When do you think I can have this by? (Rush jobs will vary.)
DESIGNER: “Let me take a look at my schedule and see where I can fit this in.”
Sometimes it is important to move things around for clients that have a history of being exceptionally courteous, prompt with payment, and can lead to more opportunities in the future. Take this into consideration in the long run.
Touching base with a client when you haven’t heard back on a project.
Typically I don’t like letting jobs sit for more than 24 hours without client feedback, even if it’s just as much as hearing back from them that they’re still waiting approval on something.
Of course the situations don’t end there. I can’t hold your hand through every decision making problem, but consider some of these tips the next time you’re dealing with correspondences that need attention:
• Keep follow-up emails short and to the point. Keep personal topics out of the conversation until a more appropriate time. This should lead to more direct answers, and move the project along a little more smoothly.
• Use words your grandmother taught you like “Please” “Thank you” and never use a tone that is condescending or impatient. Clients are under just as much stress as you (often more) and there’s no reason that your communication should be a thorn in the side of progress.
• If you do not hear back from an email you sent within 2 hours, try a follow-up phone call to see if it went through (and check your outbox because sometimes things don’t send and we can overlook them).
• If you call and get the machine, leave a message that is courteous and cooperative. Maybe they’re in a meeting that ran long or had some sort of emergency.
• Always consider that you’re not the only one affected by a project and that communication is a two-way street. Do what you can to be positive, reassuring and polite. Once you’ve done your part then it’s out of your hands and you can’t be criticized for not taking more initiative.
Have something to add? Comment at the bottom and I’ll review it (and maybe even add it to the list).
We’ll get through this.