- June 21, 2015
Celebrate The Process
Client service is hard, frustrating, emotional, rewarding (sometimes), and challenging. When agency folk get together client stories are shared like a cathartic verbal exchange meant to keep us from attending the next client services anonymous meeting. I’m not condemning the practice, venting is good and there are some absurd stories worth sharing. But venting is a slippery slope. If the only thing coming out of your mouth is negative it may be time to consider an attitude adjustment – don’t condemn the process, celebrate it!
The digital space is fraught with emotion. Each practice area (designer, developer, business representative) takes great pride in their contribution to the work produced for clients. We spend a lot of time learning our client’s business, thinking & crafting user experiences with beautiful designs, and then we bring them to life on the web, in apps, on desktop and mobile devices. Often to less appreciation than we’d prefer, but that is the nature of client service work. Honestly, if clients knew what it took to do what we do I’m sure they would empathize, but most don’t get it. They’re busy and your project is likely not their only priority. As agencies we know this, it is also why many of us got out of corporate America in the first place, but we haven’t escaped anything – our clients issues are inherently ours. Don’t be angry about it. If a client request, or a change in your project sets your blood pressure skyward take a deep breath. Life’s too short. If you hate working with clients find a new calling. But if you chose to stay, let’s enjoy the steps along the way.
Celebrate real life, come on!
Happy Cog is made up of process junkies. We’re constantly evaluating tools we use against new tools in the market (adopting Sass is a great example), how we collaborate (internally and externally), and what we deliver, when, and why. We look for ways to be more efficient in time management, without impacting the time needed to provide thoughtful, high-quality deliverables. We consider all of our work in the context of our client’s needs because we know we’ll need to be flexible when change happens.
Remember, anytime we partake in a series of actions to achieve a particular result we’re engaging in process. The result we’re after is helping solve our client’s problems. Our client’s business problems/needs occur, and change, for many reasons – market conditions, competition, responses to or adjustments in business strategy or failed tactical executions. When issues arise our first response can’t be negative, although it’s easy to feel your temperature rise. Client’s are not jerks because a competitor just launched a cutting edge feature no one knew about, or someone didn’t communicate a critical business need for the Sales Department, or the School of Underwater Basket Weaving. Yes it causes rework, yes it may significantly change our planned approach, but these are the exact situations we need to celebrate – our ability to adapt our process to accommodate these situations, or execute a different plan (perhaps a second phase) is us helping our client IRL – isn’t that what we’re in the game for? This is the extreme challenge of client services, it is what makes client services so damn hard, but is also what brings such great satisfaction when you figure it out. It also builds trust with clients because they know they can depend on you, you’ve shown their business truly matters to you.
Why Celebrate that which is difficult?
We choose to work in client services, so let’s choose to embrace our clients, empathize with them, give them the hope they seek by being attentive, compassionate, and empathetic to their needs. This doesn’t mean allowing clients to dismiss scope, ignore budget, or other constraints of the project. Don’t abandon the principles of your business agreement, or the fundamental tools for managing project work. Just remind yourself that a positive attitude, and a willingness to help your client will color your perspective, it takes the self-inflicted sting out of our work, and it makes your clients feel better about you, the project, maybe even themselves.