Thursday, 5 December 2013

Educating clients – worth every effort

Often your client's way of thinking is a world away from your development perspective on what is right for them under the circumstances.

Does this statement ring true for you? Winning projects and keeping clients happy are not easy. You are often pulling in different directions, either because you know the technology and what it is capable of, you know they can't afford what you could really give them, or you know how their customers relate to technology and the client isn't the listening type.

Maybe you should consider educating your clients regularly by a drip feed of soft training advice. This is best offered when you're actually not in the throws of a project as they can react badly to such advice then. They are, after all, the clients and paying you to produce what they want.

We came across a few bits of advice that are really worth passing on. Avara - internet marketing consultants - list their five top tips as:
  1. Be careful what you wish for, (really telling the client to think carefully before directing you, the developer, to do something.)
  2. You are not your customer, (sound advice to get the client focused).
  3. Never use the words like/dislike with feedback, (difficult to grasp without the explanation but very compelling so take a look. They suggest substituting, 'that doesn’t work because...').
  4. There's usually a good reason, (this encourages clients to trust your experience before they comment).
  5. What do you want your website to do? (tips on how to get clients to give you clear statements of what they want by agreeing what they wouldn’t want).
How and when to get your soft training messages across might be the subject of some debate. Avara does it on their website. But perhaps you could offer to send through a bi-monthly short article link for your clients, written by you and of interest to you both. This might be a solution. (Or you could direct them to suitable posts in this blog perhaps.) You know your clients and you'll know what is right. The strategy might vary for different clients, but it will be worth it to save some of the differences of perspective that always lead to debate/hassle in projects.

Top marks to Avara for analysing the prime issues they have found problematic with clients and for translating these into a credible, non-threatening set of tips. Their 'related news, views and advice' are worth noting too.

How do you educate your clients?