Author Topic: When you really do know your stuff . . . customer related OP#32  (Read 5521 times)

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jpcher

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Is there a polite way to say "I know what you're thinking and I've tried to accommodate your thoughts. Trust me. I've tried every alternative with what was supplied and this is the best possible solution."

In other words, "Please don't waste my time!" <-- I know this is nasty and I would never say it to a customer . . . but sometimes? I'd like to say "I really do know my stuff. You just gotta trust me on this."
 

BG: I'm an in-house graphic designer for a large company with a forte of page-layout/design (magazines/brochures/newsletters/fliers, etc.) All of my customers are in-house. There are certain corporate standards that must be adhered to. . . . I take pride in my work. I'll manipulate the living daylights out of any page-layout in order to ensure that it is the best possible design. endBG.


The reason I'm posting about this happened yesterday, although there have been many situations in the past where this sort of thing occurred and I'm wondering if I could somehow just cut it off at the pass.


A new bimonthly article will be appearing in our monthly magazine. So I came up with a design/logo and layout format. I presented it to the author(customer) for approval before sending it on to the editor.

Long story short, he was very happy with the accompanying artwork (no changes there) but didn't care for the layout of the page.

I spent an hour with him showing him exactly why the article was laid out the way it was. He asked "What if you did this?" I said "I tried that and it didn't work" He said "Can I just see it?" So I quickly manipulated the page and explained it doesn't work for this, that, and the other reason. He had several other suggestions . . .

In the end, he agreed that what I did was the best solution. And I worked an hour OT just to catch up with my other tasks. ::)



So . . . Is there a polite way to tell people "No. You can't see the alternatives. Trust me. I really do know my stuff."






 
« Last Edit: August 28, 2013, 07:18:13 PM by jpcher »

XRogue

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Re: When you really do know your stuff . . . customer related
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2013, 08:09:21 PM »
I don't know of one, but I am posting to get updates because I want to know too!

PastryGoddess

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Re: When you really do know your stuff . . . customer related
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2013, 08:36:06 PM »
I often work with a graphic designer for my clients events.  I am very much like your client.  For me the reason I want to know why certain other designs won't work is because I then have to go and justify the reasons for a particular layout to MY client.  Your author may need to be able to justify the reasons behind the layout to his/her boss.  Or they just may have had an idea in their head of what the layout would be and may need to wrap their minds around the new layout.

You said that you had to work an hour of overtime to make up for having to sit with this client.  Would it have taken the same amount of time for you to come up with a couple of different options to show him initially?

White Lotus

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Re: When you really do know your stuff . . . customer related
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2013, 09:14:43 PM »
Talk a little more with the customer in advance, perhaps?

LizC

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Re: When you really do know your stuff . . . customer related
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2013, 09:19:50 PM »
You could also try, "Yes, I thought of that, but it pushes X and Y out of bounds, or doesn't fit with the corporate template, etc"... just one quick reason on the no, to show that yes, you do know your stuff. There's a good chance the client will figure out you have a track record for thinking of a lot of different things before presenting the best choice set.

Or, maybe do two very similar layouts for awhile, and let them choose? Both are "yes" to you, and they get to feel like they have input.

bopper

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Re: When you really do know your stuff . . . customer related
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2013, 11:16:01 PM »
Maybe you could send them an earlier copy and get their buy in earlier in the process.

Maybe you could say that this design keeps in mind the corporate standards, industry guidelines on spacing,

delabela

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Re: When you really do know your stuff . . . customer related
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2013, 11:19:02 PM »
I think this is just part of customer service.  It's reasonable for a client to want to see why something they wanted doesn't work.  If I am getting a service/product that I am unfamiliar with, I tend to want to understand why something is the way it is rather than just be told "this is how this has to be."  I am completely unfamiliar with graphic design, so I would probably ask a lot of questions about your work.  It's not that I don't believe you know what you're doing, it's just that I like to understand why something is a certain way in (which helps with any adjustments I might need to make, or planning for future projects).

So I think you do have to have an explanation that is more than "I know what I'm doing" - maybe, as a previous poster stated, have a couple of examples ready, or offer a more complete explanation.

Amara

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Re: When you really do know your stuff . . . customer related
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2013, 11:34:05 PM »
Could you print out, in B&W and on cheap paper, copies of things you tried that didn't work before you delete or change them? Then keep them in a folder until the client accepts the best design? That way you'd have them and can show them? If not on paper, how about keeping various digital versions in a "rejected designs for client X" desktop folder?

TomatoBunny

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Re: When you really do know your stuff . . . customer related
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2013, 04:56:43 AM »
I don't know, if she shows rejected/impossible designs, then what's to stop the client from saying "No no, Rejected Design 2 looks better than Acceptable Design 1. Change it to that." and starting a whole "well, just make it work!" discussion/argument from there?  :-\ 

If acceptable alternatives exist, then sure, maybe they should be shown, but it sounds more like there's really only the one way to get everything on the page with fitting with contents and standards.

jpcher

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Re: When you really do know your stuff . . . customer related
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2013, 03:07:21 PM »
That's an excellent thought, Amara. In fact, I normally do that with other pieces that I work on.

With things other than the magazine, we often present several design choices to the customer.

However, with the magazine, it's pretty much set in stone once I'm done with the layout. It's very rare when there is a requested change for the page-layout itself, so I don't bother saving versions that I have rejected.

I don't know, if she shows rejected/impossible designs, then what's to stop the client from saying "No no, Rejected Design 2 looks better than Acceptable Design 1. Change it to that." and starting a whole "well, just make it work!" discussion/argument from there?  :-\ 

If acceptable alternatives exist, then sure, maybe they should be shown, but it sounds more like there's really only the one way to get everything on the page with fitting with contents and standards.

TomatoBunny -- you are spot on with this response.



The magazine does go through an extensive approval process which does not include the authors. Author's must approve the content (text, photos, artwork, etc.) before it even gets to me.

I think that's what irritated me about this particular instance. I created 3 designs of branding artwork that would accompany his article every time it's published. I put my preferred choice with the article, sent him that along with the 2 other designs asking him to critique/suggest changes or approve whichever design he liked best.

He absolutely loved my preferred artwork design (one minor change) then went into the page-layout itself . . . maybe I should have sent him the 3 designs alone, without the article attached. :-\






PastryGoddess -- I completely understand your viewpoint. I am not unsympathetic to customers requests at all. I agree that a customer's understanding of why something is done in this particular way is very important.

Yes. I do talk to customers early on in the planning stage in order to get their feel/thoughts for the project (I did talk to Author before designing the artwork, not the layout.)

So long as the customer is amenable to the professional's explanation I do not have a problem taking the time to explaining the reason why the design was done or should be done this way as opposed to what they waaaaant.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2013, 03:12:29 PM by jpcher »

Twik

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Re: When you really do know your stuff . . . customer related
« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2013, 09:51:48 AM »
I often work with a graphic designer for my clients events.  I am very much like your client.  For me the reason I want to know why certain other designs won't work is because I then have to go and justify the reasons for a particular layout to MY client.  Your author may need to be able to justify the reasons behind the layout to his/her boss.  Or they just may have had an idea in their head of what the layout would be and may need to wrap their minds around the new layout.

You said that you had to work an hour of overtime to make up for having to sit with this client.  Would it have taken the same amount of time for you to come up with a couple of different options to show him initially?

While I'm not a graphic artist, I'm pretty sure that the answer to your question would be "yes, it would take up that amount of time, and more." Not just in the work (creating three versions instead of one), but in the client dithering, "Well, I know you said we should use that one ... but I kind of like this one. Why won't it work? Maybe you could sort of blend A and B together, and use the color scheme from C. What do you mean, you'll need more time to do that? Can't you just push a button on the computer or something?"
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lowspark

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Re: When you really do know your stuff . . . customer related
« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2013, 12:11:28 PM »
Could you print out, in B&W and on cheap paper, copies of things you tried that didn't work before you delete or change them? Then keep them in a folder until the client accepts the best design? That way you'd have them and can show them? If not on paper, how about keeping various digital versions in a "rejected designs for client X" desktop folder?

This is pretty much what I was going to suggest. I often keep several iterations of what I'm working on just so I can go back if I need to. I hit "save as" just about the time I'm going to make the next major change.

So when your customer asks you "what if", regardless of the fact that your final layout is set in stone, you can at least show them the answer to their question in a matter of seconds instead of having to recreate it before their very eyes.

lowspark

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Re: When you really do know your stuff . . . customer related
« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2013, 12:36:05 PM »
It seems to me that you have a sort of interesting working relationship in play here. If the customer really does have the liberty to ask you to change the layout, then maybe you should get with the customer before the initial design work to at least get input on what they have in mind.

On the other hand, since you are the expert, maybe you need to come to an understanding with your customers that since they are paying you for your expertise, they really should trust you to make those decisions and that aside from minor tweaks, they should take you at your word when you say that this is the best layout.

Of course, whether you can say that or not is totally dependent on the atmosphere of the office and the level of comfort you have with your customers. I'm guessing that there are some people who are more "hands on" than others. Maybe for those who want more input like that, you present the "final" product and when they start to question it, you whip out all the other layouts that didn't work and just ask them to peruse them (after you've returned to your desk) so they can see how your process evolves. If you did this a few times, they might stop asking.

LazyDaisy

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Re: When you really do know your stuff . . . customer related
« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2013, 04:37:49 PM »
I've been a graphic designer for 15 years and often the problem with presenting 3-4 so-so or rejected designs isn't that they will choose one of the designs that doesn't work, it's that they will inevitably want to create a 5th frankendesign out of the rejects because they like a little of this and a little of that. Happens. every. time.

I sympathize jpcher. I've never found the magic words to convince a client that I've already gone through many many ideas, discarded the bad ones, and presented them with the best possible solution. The ray of sunshine is that every so often the customer will actually acknowledge that you were right.

Just an hour ago, after creating 5 logo designs (I followed the customer specs exactly and it's an awful mess) they have finally sent me this email... "I believe I may have handicapped you with what I thought would be a good emblem.  I want to free you from my limited vision to help us create an emblem for our [program]. Let me describe the course, in the hopes your creative juices take over and come up with an emblem that is not limited by my instructions..." This has made my week already. I always try to get as much information about a project up front, but sometimes clients just don't know what they need or want until they see it.
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JoieGirl7

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Re: When you really do know your stuff . . . customer related
« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2013, 10:15:44 PM »
I think that trust is something that is built over time.  It's not required that someone simply trust you because its your job.  If they want something in a certain way or need to understand why it is the way it is, then that's they way they are.

As long as you get paid for the time that you spend working on the project, whether its doing the actual typesetting or explaining it, does it really matter?