Friday, 26 April 2013

Unhappy client syndrome - have you eliminated it?

Clients are your customers and they do pay (don't they?) to keep you in work and the company going. They can be demanding, ignorant of your business nuances, and fail to recognise that a project is a partnership so they have to participate to make it happen.

On the other hand, clients often still have gripes about their developers that sound believable: fail to meet deadlines, don't perform as expected, produce work that doesn't meet the business needs, don't listen, and so on. Why haven't we managed to sort out these mainly communication-based problems?

Well, communication takes time and effort. It isn't good enough to have your company processes outlined on your website and in a company brochure. Many clients don't read these or only glance at them at the beginning of the relationship. It may well be that your description is still pretty technical as far as they're concerned and they don't understand it. You and your people need to reinforce the principles as well as draw your client's attention to them when needed in plain English.

There is a gap between the specialisms of business and technological development. It has been closing and some people have managed to straddle them. (These are the people most in demand at the moment. See our earlier blog, The Thorny iMedia Salary Debate, 12th April 2013.) Misunderstanding is generally at the bottom of most dissension. A Project Manager will know full well that this is the case as most of their time is spent on exercising control to avoid this and mitigation to appease the situation, so that the team can get on with their work. A Project Manager/Account Manager is there to take the strain between client and developers.

Now if you feel that none of this applies to you, well done indeed. Perhaps your company receives glowing reviews from your clients. Do you know? Are you checking what people say about you? You may not be able to employ people full time to check out and report back on tweets, postings and electronic reviews like large businesses do, but you can schedule time to check the social temperature on your company from time to time. You might be pleasantly surprised and be able to incorporate praise on your own media platforms. If there are criticisms you need to look into their validity and decide how to avoid such negativity again.

There are companies that specialise in reviews, (just think of Tripadvisor), and this fashion is spreading into all areas. Just take a moment to think about the implications especially if you're an agency by looking at 5 places to look for client reviews and recommendations for a Website Design Agency, from WWDC (which web design company), 27th March 2013. They list themselves at the top.

Happy browsing!