As a graphic design business, you offer people creative solutions to their problems.
With the market for graphic design becoming more competitive by the day, the probability of getting contracts may depend on how fast you respond to customer inquiries. You also need to ensure that your client communications are clear as communication mistakes will cost you clients.
So, how exactly should you communicate with your clients?
The best way to improve your communication is to know what “bad” communication is in the first place. Here are some communication mistakes you should avoid that can cost you clients:
1. Poor Email Etiquette
Email communication is one of the most widely used channels of communication. There are certain factors you need to keep in mind when writing to clients, especially if you’re in a service-oriented business like graphic design.
Email etiquette is a pivotal part of business etiquette. If you want your customers to remain loyal, you need to follow proper email best practices. Here are some things to consider when writing a business email:
- Your subject line should explain the purpose of your email.
- Use a professional greeting and introduce yourself and end with a email signature, preferably with a personal logo
- Keep your email concise and to the point.
- Refrain from humor unless you know the person.
- Use a grammar checker to catch errors and typos.
Following these tips is straightforward.
So, whether you’re sending video emails or just asking a client about a project, don’t come off too friendly or too formal—find a balance. Many design clients you’ll encounter might lean towards being relaxed, but unless you already have a certain degree of comfort with them, it’s better to keep a respectful distance.
Moreover, keep a strict check on any grammatical or punctuation errors. After all, since part of a graphic designer’s job is laying out copy against a graphic background, you need to display a keen eye for detail. If a potential customer sees you’ve missed an error in your email, they might think you’ll miss similar errors in your work.
2. Vague Scope of Work
If you’re going to work with someone, you need a clear scope of work on your graphic design proposal. For example, outline what you will do, your responsibilities, and deadlines. You should also highlight client responsibilities.
Failing to mention such crucial details is an easy communication mistake. It can cause tensions and confusion, and in the worst-case scenario, ruin your company’s reputation.
Consider creating delivery schedules and timetables to ensure everyone is clear on project deadlines. Your project management tool should outline project objectives, task assignments, deliverables, and timelines, among other things.
So, send your clients something like this for better business communication:
Map out what steps you’re planning to take when it comes to reaching your business goals. A vague scope of work will not only cause miscommunication with clients. It will also lead to wrong expectations. For example, not specifying a maximum number of revisions or studies might result in endless email exchanges between you and the client, which will have an impact on your project delivery date.
Both parties need to be on the same page to understand individual and collective responsibilities and tasks. If you start the project correctly, you’re less likely to have problems later.
3. Not Saying No
As a business, you want to keep your client satisfied. However, saying yes to all their requests can leave you in hot water.
Learning how to say “no” is an important business skill. You should only provide services if you have the expertise, experience, and capacity to carry out the work. Taking on work that you cannot complete promptly will cause you problems.
When should you say no, though?
I can think of many instances when you should harness the strategic power of no. For example, if your client insists on you sending your final artwork through email instead of a password-secured cloud storage platform, you can say no. This will help protect your intellectual property and keep your client from using it without your permission (or before they send the final payment).
If your clients are changing deadlines without notice, not keeping up with their word in general, or just sending you work without your approval, for instance, you need to say no. The last thing you want to do is overburden yourself. If that happens, the quality of your work will suffer.
Perfect clients may be difficult to find, but the right ones will always respect your boundaries. Where there’s respect, there’s always room for communication and long-lasting relationships.
4. Not Valuing Your Expertise
If you charge less than your competitors and undervalue yourself, you can end up with a lot of work that you struggle to complete. The result? You end up burnt out, and you don’t deliver the quality of work the client expects.
If you’ve spent years developing your graphic expertise, you should charge clients for it. Charging higher prices means you are bound to turn off some clients, especially those who are not familiar with your work. However, you will earn higher profits from the clients you retain. The best way to display your expertise is to create a graphic design portfolio and to list your previous clients.
By charging a fair price for your services, you’ll end up with more money or time to invest in your business and your customers. In your case, it could mean a new machine, software, plug-ins, or subscriptions to image banks like Getty Images.
5. Not Asking Follow-up Questions
If you’re unsure about what a client wants, ask follow-up questions. Not only will this leave no room for confusion, but it will also help you meet your clients’ requests.
For instance, if your client offers a content strategy you don’t quite understand, ask them to clarify your queries. Or, if they’ve asked you to advertise on their social media networks or to customize their social media posts, request them to give you more specific details about what is required.
Here are some examples of follow-up questions from SMB Nation you can ask to get a better idea of what your client is looking for in a project:
Shying away from asking follow-up questions can harm your business’ credibility as you might not meet the clients’ expectations. You wouldn’t just be compromising on your time and money. You’d be compromising on your clients’ time and money as well.
Pro tip: Get your team on board and ask them to keep track of any modifications you make to projects after speaking to clients.
Good communication is key to enduring business relationships. With good communication, you can build clients’ trust in your services. That, in turn, can give your business an edge in the highly competitive graphic design market.
Besides, when clients have a positive experience communicating with you, they will be willing to engage you again. You can expect them to be loyal to you.
So be aware and avoid committing these communication mistakes. Make sure you shun poor email etiquette and a vague scope of work. Say no when needed, value your expertise, and ask follow-up questions.
Make your business reach its potential by making yourself and your team members good communicators. Offer them relevant training and guidance beforehand. Use different communication channels, take clients’ communication preferences into account, and watch your business flourish and reach great heights.