The first step in helping a client, is figuring out that they are in need.
This is a lot harder to do at larger companies, however, where stakeholders go up several levels. These stakeholders may have particular ways and specific reasons for doing things, and the results may have trickled down to every department. With larger companies finding problems is easy, but fixing them is another story. Organizations of this size tend to have checks and balances that allow for discrepancies in various areas—for example, we might spend time fixing a design system that may never see the light of day, because activation would be more of an undertaking than figuring out how to solve the problem in the first place. This can also happen in smaller sized companies, primarily where cost is the determining factor holding back the solution from coming to fruition.
Consultation between the client and us
So how do you get over hurdles of this magnitude? It starts with a consultation. Maybe there are parts of the problem that bleed into the larger cause, that can be solved first. For example, say company A is having a hard time pushing their tech product to a certain audience on social media—their ideal demographic are young, hip and trendy, but also educated and clever. There are several areas that could be in need of reworking, but we must consult with the very basis of the problem to figure out what the root cause is. It could be the demographic—this group of early adopters might not share the same values as the product, or it could be the channels that were chosen to share the message. Without strategic insight into what the specific issues are, we must first attempt to solve the problems that are clear. At this point, it is up to us to consult the client to develop a roadmap for this. We may begin with solves that don’t require a drastic approach, or too much heavy lifting on our end or the client’s—this could include altering the copywriting, or slight changes to visual language. From here onwards, it is our job to understand metrics from the changes we make, and hereby take ownership of the product’s success.
We educate the client on our process
This is where educating the client about our process comes in. Going back to the example of copywriting—if the client chose to see us as an advertising agency, they would probably ask for guidelines on their new voice, and perhaps a few choice lines of copy to really sell their product. That would be it, that would be the extent of our job. However that’s not all we are here for, it isn’t problem solving, and it just makes new problems for our client. When we take on new clients, we educate them on why we need to be involved in every step; it isn’t enough for us to just provide creative and be done. Feedback from both the client and their audience is vital, we need to be there to see the reaction and understand it. It’s our job to step outside our bubble, and into the client’s world, to see their product interact with its audience.
It is important to us to form partnerships with our clients, only then can we really elevate their brand and expand on their purpose. Our process involves being there every step of the way, to make sure the client understands every one of our decisions.
We educate the client on the solution
While it may be easy to say that we will always be there for our clients, actually making that happen is another story. Problem solving is about fixing things that are broken, unresolved, or overly complicated. However, solutions may be much more involved than, for example, simply producing a new billboard for a client. That billboard may never be seen, or worse may be seen by the wrong audience. It’s up to us to solve for those kinds of problems. We want to make sure that the solutions we provide are more than just visual, but that they also include strategy, consulting, vision, road-mapping, and that they add value. These things cannot be achieved if the stakeholders in the product don’t understand what they are getting from us, and expect to only be involved at the very end of the process.
So now we are at the beginning of the project, our primary goal is to set expectations. This phase involves a lot of research and planning, where the client is involved with our findings and rationale.
Every solution is started from the ground up
With every project we try and start with a clean slate. It’s a bad practice to adopt someone else’s research and findings, without having first done your own; starting the project with presumptions leads to solutions that end up as band-aids.The client is expecting us to understand their industry and problem—this should be done with fresh eyes.
Always involve the client from inception
Our results, findings, ideas, and other processes, are always filtered through the client to ensure we are on the right track. We may have a good idea about how to grow their audience or meet some other type of business goal, but without their input our perceptions may be off.
Our clients have eyes on all parts of the project
One aspect of this whole process that can halt everything, is the management of the project. One goal of our process is transparency. This can only be achieved with a system that allows for multiple eyes on the project, without some type of gatekeeper. We’ve chosen to adopt Trello for this reason. With Trello we are able to open up our process to clients, without the need to actively show them where we are with meetings, emails, etc. The client can actively participate in project discussions, if they so choose, helping us to get real-time feedback on things we are working on.
Each part can be developed independently
This transparency not only allows for quick development of a project with a client, but it also allows other teams to move forward with other parts of the project at the same time. For example, if our strategy team creates a set of needs for a website, the development team can start building the backend to meet those needs, while at the same time the UI/UX team can start bringing those needs to life. No longer do we have to wait to hand things off to each other; project development can happen simultaneously, and seamlessly.
The solution is finalized
After the iteration phase with the client is complete, the final solution is achieved. This end-result should be measured against the expectations set at the beginning of the project, and the realigned expectations throughout the project. It’s always important to reflect on the journey of the project to make sure what you end up with is still the right thing for the client. It is our goal to make sure that our internal values do not supersede the needs of the client.
We help guide and activate the solution
At this point, we’ve reached the end of the roadmap with the client. The next part of the project is probably the most difficult, and requires multiple teams to make it successful. It’s important for us to be involved with the activation as much as possible. We want to make sure what the clients’ consumers see is the best it can be. This could mean finding vendors, directing construction/development, or several other aspects of making something come to life. This part of the project is usually handled by the client, but we feel it can be vital to a project’s success for us to be involved, where necessary.
We follow up with the client regarding the solution
After the project has been activated and has been seen/used/bought by its consumers, we like to keep up with metrics surrounding this. Whether it's through feedback directly from the client, or our own measurement tools, we like to make sure the effort we put in paid off. Understanding these numbers will also help us refine that client’s project, and craft better solution for future clients.
We form a partnership with the client through collaboration
Finally, our end-goal from all of this is to form a partnership with the client—to execute on something and hope the by-product is their trust in our ability, and the success of their own endeavors. We achieve this through collaboration, and allowing the client to have a voice and a place at the table during our process.
Published by: admin in Design