There is some deliberate processing involved for the new client to call a designer. A new customer first has to be convinced they need to pay to solve a particular problem and then they have to determine WHO they should call. Obstacles in the way may be:
- Designer Phobia; a common disease among clients who have had a bad experience with someone. They may have felt unheard, or misled, or ripped off. They recognize that they didn’t know how to manage the designer and felt like they spent too much money and didn’t get enough for the fees charged.
- Customer Low Confidence; a very common condition when a future client doesn’t feel they have any design sense, and aren’t even sure what to ask a designer. They feel they lack the vocabulary, the skill set or point of view needed to work well with a designer.
- “Need Help But” Customer; a tricky condition that may not be obvious at first glance. This customer wants the professional help BUT also wants to control the entire direction without listening or learning from the design process. A couple of symptoms of this condition may include: “My wife wants to see what you are doing before we finish the office design”, ” We have to keep the navy blue leather in the lobby. (or similar)”, or “Do I have to pay for ideas I don’t like?”. Now all these are legitimate comments, but you can sense when they are said innocently or leading somewhere else. Sometimes they hand you a prescription to fill versus asking you to diagnosis the problem.
- “Indecision-itis”; sometimes this customer is best not to call at all.
After they do call you, you may discover what was the final motivator to include you in their design process; quite often it is something like:
- After the award, the boss thinks our office needs to reflect more of who we are as a successful….
- We want to entertain more and the house just doesn’t feel like it flows right….
- We visited the XXXXX and it inspired us to think about XXXX….
- We want our employees to be more fully engaged in our company vision and think a remodel will help…..
- Or, we started this process a while ago but it was getting too difficult (or expensive) but we know we have to finish it…
What do all those “excuses” have in common? A circumstance outside of design made them re-evaluate their environment, how it makes them “feel”, how it reflects who they are and desire a change.
A returning customer has had an experience with you already and makes it easy for them to call again. They can weigh for themselves the “value” of buying time because they experienced the outcome. Some of the results that motivates them to call you could include:
- Positive attention and assorted compliments from associates, employees and friends on the outcome of the last project
- People sharing the space showed increased respect for the space and demonstrated a sense of pride
- Those involved gained some insight into design, the design process and learned about themselves
- Expanded their personal sphere of influence and created a new friend in their design, architect, contractor and suppliers
- Improved business, employee performance, customer satisfaction or a sense of well-being
Understanding the reasons why someone wants to work with you on a project, is an important first questions to answer. Not just why they selected you, but what their goals and expectations are. And as the project comes to an end, remind them of the goals and ask them for feedback, did they have the experience they wanted? Was the outcome what they expected?