Taking responsibility is not just about owning up to mistakes (although I am a big advocate for doing that, and as quickly as possible), but it is about being proactively responsible as well.
So this is normal behaviour, right? Nope…
Recently I’ve begun to realise that something I do all the time and assumed was normal practice, is anything but. I’ve always taken the view that the management of a client’s project is as much my responsibility as theirs, and doesn’t end at the point I proof them something. I feel that I should be gently nudging them as much (or normally far more) than they are chasing me – surely everyone does this, right? Not so.
Not just a passive freelancer
Douglas Adams famously said “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by” and left unchecked deadlines will most certainly fly past you, which is why project management is so important. Recently I sent a proof to a client for a job that was on a very tight deadline and I hadn’t heard back after about 24hrs. This was very unusual for this customer, they were normally incredibly quick in their responses. I could have taken the view of ‘oh well they haven’t responded, so I’ll not do anything’ which may be tempting for a freelancer with multiple projects live at any given time. However, I never viewed myself as a freelancer – Pixooma is a graphic design consultancy and project/account management is part of the professional service we provide. In this particular scenario ignoring the lack of response from the client would have caused the following:
- The project would have run ‘to the wire’ meaning that I, and the customer, would have been put under more pressure, and that is when mistakes are made
- The project would have overrun and the client would not have been happy. This may not be my ‘fault’ directly, but I stand by the Pixooma Satisfaction Guarantee and so I try to ensure the client is 100% happy wherever humanly possible
Be proactive – your customer will really appreciate it because they are busy too
So what did I do? Well I contacted the client to see if they got my email – we always assume they go through, but they can be lost in any number of ways – and you know what? They hadn’t received it, so I sent it again and the project was kept on track. This is such a simple thing to do, but good communication is not something that every company excels at – I don’t think we get it right all the time, but I think we do very well most of the time and we always strive to improve.
There are numerous ways a project can go off track and so I try to ensure that not only does Pixooma meets its obligations, but that the client is reminded of their need to provide new information, feedback on proofs, approve artwork etc… after all they are busy as well and can easily get distracted or diverted onto other tasks. With Pixooma as an equal partner in the project management process projects just flow more smoothly.
So next time you hear a client telling you that their designer goes ‘off-grid’ for a number of days, doesn’t keep them up to date with progress, or has other communication woes, put them in touch with Pixooma, I’d be happy to show how it can work…