When is the last time you were a client? Jason 26 Jul 2006

33 comments Latest by spring

Client bashing is popular among designers, programmers, and consultants, but I’m curious: When was the last time you were a client? How did you feel about trusting the end product to someone else? Maybe you hired a contractor to build something in your house, or a landscaper to fix up your yard, or an interior decorator, or a caterer for an event, or… How would you rate yourself as a client? What was the most difficult thing for you? Be honest!

33 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Christopher Hawkins 26 Jul 06

The toughest thing for me is to not second-guess the provider. Clients often to do this to me and it drives me nuts. I can understand the impulse, but it’s just a bad thing to do, so I don’t. Trust is a hard thing to come by at first.

I try really hard to behave with service providers the way my best clients behave with my business - with trust, respect, and timely payments!

David Mulder 26 Jul 06

As a client, I would say I am fair and patient with someone providing a service for me. For example, when I am getting a haircut, I don’t ask the stylist for a status report after every few snips, or try to remind her that she needs to do the other side of my head- I mean, it’s her job, and she knows (I hope) what she’s doing.

If I lack in any area as a client, it’s in providing firm direction. Often times, however, I don’t really know what I want if I am not used to the service, and thusly I cannot communicate effectively. For example, the first time I purchased bagels from Panera Bread, I was asked a series of questions (sliced or toasted? with cream cheese? ) which I had not even thought about. Luckily, I knew exactly what I wanted and was able to answer these questions. However, the situation might be different with, say, a painting contractor. Clearly, if I can’t communicate effectively, I won’t get what I want, so I usually leave it up to the service provider to help me find out what I want (if that makes sense).

Christopher Hawkins 26 Jul 06

Gah, sorry for the double-post. The page was hung so I click “Post” again.

/me hangs head in shame

Andy Akins 26 Jul 06

I’m facing this right now - dealing with a contractor who is supposed to be repairing my house from hail damage. The work was supposed to be done at the end of April :)

The thing is, I truly believe there have been appropriate reasons for the delays…but it is still very aggrevating. I have to remind myself to have a level head and be reasonable when dealing with the company.

It does help, to remind me what being a client is like…

Jeff Croft 26 Jul 06

I as also going to mention my haircuts. I go in to a seriously-girly salon to get my hair cut, and every time I say, “you’re the expert, just make it look and feel good.”

The crazy thing is, it took me a long time before I found a stylist who actually liked my attitude towards it. Most of them got freaked out by the freedom and had no idea what to do — usually I ended up with the exact same cut I walked in with. Finally, I found a girl who is excited by the freedom and is always coming up with new ideas.

Noah 26 Jul 06

I’m great because I ask myself how I’d like to be treated.

You’ll catch more flys with honey and get more discounts better work and faster work if you’re a good person to deal with.

Jason B. 26 Jul 06

It’s hard not to feel like a hypocrite. I don’t know how many times I have thought, “He wants how much? Hell, I can do that. How hard can electrical wiring be?”

Though, to be fair, if I think it’s a reasobable price, I won’t complain. Too much.

Kendall 26 Jul 06

I know that I am a very discriminating client. If I’m paying for something I think it should be done right. And I think that if someone is giving me a valuable service/product I should expect to pay for that. I am definitely a fan of a good value, but I also never expect a free lunch.

I definitely do get annoyed when something is not done to my liking. So I guess your point is that it’s sensible that a client of mine might feel the same way. Definitely a good reminder. It’s really easy to sit and bitch about clients or requests, but they just want their stuff done right. Which is valid. What still pisses me off though is when a client wants something done right and isn’t willing to pay for it. That, to me, is unacceptable.

despy 26 Jul 06

I had a client who refused to pay his bill because he said it was too cheap for the work I’d delivered. I had to send him a bigger bill before he paid. Does anybody know where I can find more clients like that?

Scott Orchard 26 Jul 06

I’ll carry on with Jeff’s haircut example, a couple of years ago my friend Angela became my “stylist,” she was attending the Paul Mitchell School and I could either head in there for a cut, or she’d come by my house. I told her to do what she thought was best, usually I’d tell another stylist or barber to do exactly as I requested. I was a little unsure at first, but I was much happier with the results when I gave over the creative freedom to my friend. I trusted in her expertise, and I haven’t looked back.

Later on down the line, the roles reversed when I designed some business cards for a side project for her, it was an interesting exprience for both of us, she was the client now, when she was used to being the designer. I think it’s good to be reminded of what being on the other side feels like.

Shawn 26 Jul 06

Besides doing an internal evaluation of the various designers that we outsource projects to, we have the designer do an evaluation of us (and we provide our evaluation to them) at the end of each project. It’s still pretty early to see the real effects of this, but it seems like it should help both parties work better in the future, both together and with others.

Mark 26 Jul 06

I guess I need to pull out the hair example too.

For the longest time, I would go into a salon and tell the stylist what I wanted. I’d then plop down in the chair, lose myself in a magazine, seal up the mouth and wait.

Every single time, I would like it for a little bit (far sooner than the “grow out” period), and then get discouraged. My first response was usually to blame the stylist and find someone else.

Rinse and repeat that cycle, always with the same result.

Finally, I’ve found someone I’m comfortable with, and through the trusting relationship that we’ve formed and my previous experiences, I’m now to the point of telling him — you’re the artist and professional here. You know me, what I’m trying to achieve, who I hang around, and the trends for folks my age. You have the information you need, do what you need to do to create a solution for me.

I’ve never been happier.

The key to all of it was finding someone who’s personality I meshed with. That was the basis of building trust and getting the information he needed from me to do the job right. I’ve never picked up a magazine at his place, and talk to him the whole time about everything other than the activity of my haircut while sitting there.

gaston 26 Jul 06

I’ve noticed myself doing many of the things I’ve hated in clients.

Maybe I need to be more patient with clients? I guess so.

Kyle Posey 26 Jul 06

I’m probably a high-maintenance client. I like to know what is going on, and I like work to be done in the time I was told it would be. I’m tired of companies trying to do as little work as possible to get paid. On the other hand, I pay for quality and efficiency. If a company can do the job to my standards (which I don’t think are all that high), then I have no problem paying them more… and when they do a good job and impress me, I’ll continue to go back to them and refer them to everyone I know.

Rahul 26 Jul 06

Let’s face it, everyone’s a hypocrite. I don’t feel like having a haircut is really in the same ball park as trusting someone with what is essentially your shop’s window online as a haircut involves embarrassment when it goes wrong and a website typically involves several thousand dollars if it’s screwed up (especially in terms of lost business).

As always, a good common sense rule of thumb is to treat others like you want to be treated. Which in this case probably means not assuming they intentionally screwed up your remodeled kitchen just because it looks like the drawer’s hinge is a little wonky.

Seth Thomas Rasmussen 26 Jul 06

I’m pretty much awesome at life, so..

I gotta find me one of those crazy stylists. I like hair experimentation. I once shaved my head to look like I had horseshoe pattern baldness for a weekend. It was surprisingly interesting.

Okay, here’s where I become a crappy client though: you don’t get my business because a creative haircut costs 800 dollars, and frankly I’m not that concerned with folicle creativity.

n 26 Jul 06

I try not to be a client as little as possible, as doing it myself usually yields better results, but takes much more time. Taking the haircutting example, I cut my own hair for most of my life. It’s hard to find a stylist who knows what they are doing and actually listens to what I tell them to do (and none of the ones I’ve encountered are capable of suggesting what I should do with my hair). It does take me longer to do it myself than it would a stylist, but that’s the price I pay.

Geoff 26 Jul 06

I try to be disciminating about whom I hire. I tend to pay a premium for services. I insist on solid contracts. I abide by the letter of the contract. I am not annoyed by change orders, but if someone does work outside of scope without a explicit approval, I am a hard-bargaining negotiator on the pricing of the unapproved work. I hold them to the highest possible standard. I let them do their job. I express gratitude if they go over and beyond. I pay quickly — in advance of their req.

Good contracts are a must — they stipulate clear scopes and provide for what to do if something deviates from the terms. They protect client and service provider. I am a firm believer that they are the foundation of any good client/service provider relationship.

My number 2 priority is to structure the payment terms so as to incent the service provider to finish the job. It is a turn-off to me to have proposals that are front-loaded — this means the service provider gets paid more to start projects than to finish them.

I give myself a gold star.

Luis 26 Jul 06

We’re all clients at some point in time. Just going to the grocery store, the dry cleaners.
The key is to trust the person you hired to do the job, whatever it may be. Granted you’ll get burned as a result every now and again, but I doubt that can be avoided. Can it?

I trust my mechanic whole-hearted. When I take my car in for service I tell him what’s wrong. We’ve got the type of relationship now that if he notices something else needs to be done (within reason) he does it, like replacing the cabin filter, or whatever. Maybe I’m stupid for trusting him, but I know what it feels like to do work for someone that’s always scrutinizing everything you do. It makes me nervous and resentful.

I’d rather chance it (within reason) and if I don’t get what I need, then I move on to the next person. I figure any person worthy of repeat business will make a honest effort to keep their clients. The rest will slowly fade away as people dump them.

Steve 26 Jul 06

I suck as a client, unless I just say that I’m like most clients, a pain in the ass. I expect perfection and unfortunately it doesn’t exist too often.

We bought a home and had some contractors do some stuff, new floors, painting, etc. I did a ton of work myself, so I was right there in the weeds with them. I’d work 18 hours a day adn they’d work 6, maybe. Then, 10pm the night before deadline I do a walk-through and point all the poorly painted spots out, including a completely missed half-bath, missed moulding, missed ceilings, spilled paint, etc. My painter throws a hissy fit and says “F it, I’m outta here, pay me if you want to”.

As a vendor, I try to put out the best product I can, knowing that if I was the client, I would be extremely analytical. Why is that so hard to expect? I hate hiring people for the first time, there’s such a risk that people are horrible - no matter the references that are checked. Oddly enough, and Keith hit it on the head, American’s have a stereotpye that we’re lazy and do stuff half ass. His landscaper is the same as my back-up handy-man and my cleaning service. The handy-man came in to fix everything that the other american contractors messed up. His prices were reasonable, but his work was top notch, he was so analytical of all his work and felt bad that I paid someone else for poor craftsmanship.

Jack Shedd 26 Jul 06

Being a designer/programmer/client monkey, whenever I work with others in the creative field, I just give them the run of the place.

The specs are loose, and vague, and the money is good. I expect you to wow me, since I’m giving you no restraints. If you fail to, I just won’t use you again. End story.

For jobs where the task at hand is less subjective, I’m a stickler. If I didn’t love the quality of your service, I’m gone. I’ll just figure out how to do whatever I hired you to do myself.

Steve 26 Jul 06

I suck as a client, unless I just say that I’m like most clients, a pain in the ass. I expect perfection and unfortunately it doesn’t exist too often.

We bought a home and had some contractors do some stuff, new floors, painting, etc. I did a ton of work myself, so I was right there in the weeds with them. I’d work 18 hours a day adn they’d work 6, maybe. Then, 10pm the night before deadline I do a walk-through and point all the poorly painted spots out, including a completely missed half-bath, missed moulding, missed ceilings, spilled paint, etc. My painter throws a hissy fit and says “F it, I’m outta here, pay me if you want to”.

As a vendor, I try to put out the best product I can, knowing that if I was the client, I would be extremely analytical. Why is that so hard to expect? I hate hiring people for the first time, there’s such a risk that people are horrible - no matter the references that are checked. Oddly enough, and Keith hit it on the head, American’s have a stereotpye that we’re lazy and do stuff half ass. His landscaper is the same as my back-up handy-man and my cleaning service. The handy-man came in to fix everything that the other american contractors messed up. His prices were reasonable, but his work was top notch, he was so analytical of all his work and felt bad that I paid someone else for poor craftsmanship.

Litfaßsäule 26 Jul 06

great site with good look and information…i like it

Ross Johnson 26 Jul 06

I like to think I am a good client. I am always very understanding and try to put myself in their shoes. I think design related industries are different than most (this includes application design, web, graphic, usability, etc), because a lot of people feel they need to input on how something should work regardless of lack of training.

However, I have never yelled or been rude to any client or service provider regardless of the situation. I find if you voice your concerns respectfully it gets you farther than being a jerk. (in most situations)

Ismo 27 Jul 06

About two weeks ago I was celebrating my birthdays in Amsterdam, Netherlands. We was just hanging out in park and I decide that I need a haircut. So I went to barbershop. Barber-Guy speaks bad english. So do I. But I trusted him. And I have to say, that we has very good. Maybe best haircut ever =)

(I have to say, that was expensive area and look-like-very-good company; I don’t trust all barbershops =)

Sam Barnum 27 Jul 06

Rather recently, I tried to locate a C++ developer to handle something for our small Java development house. What a nightmare! Trying to find someone with a good grasp of the English language AND programming wasa surprisingly difficult.

The whole process has definitely changed how I relate to our clients. I think it was a really beneficial thing for me to go through, particularly when it comes to handling brand new clients.

I think of how I kep hoping the people I was calling would seem, and that’s what I try to project. Confidence and candor and understanding.

jenn.suz.hoy 28 Jul 06

I’ll be honest - I’ve never been a client in the area of design, programming, etc. I haven’t had a need.

Now, I’ve been a client of other professions, definately. Let’s take the example, I got my hair cut today. I know I’m a rare breed when I go to get my hair cut, because I trust the master of the scissors working behind my head. I trust them so much, I’m often encouraging them “don’t be afraid, because I’m not.” and “it’ll always grow, so just go to it.” (yes, those are actual things I’ve said in the chair)

I draw this analogy because it ties so perfectly with what we deal with day-to-day as designer/programmers/etc. Most of the clients only want “a little bit off the top” and “Stop! Stop! You’ve gone too far!” I understand I’m not an expert at cutting hair, and I have a hard time understanding why this realization comes so late, or never comes at all to the design clients we deal with.

Kopasz Fasz 02 Aug 06

My haircut story: I’m bald.

Allen 08 Aug 06

I am a high-need client. I provide the best on my client projects and I expect the same when I am the client.

I will give a great example of POOR service.

In officially launching my new business (www.organicstats.com) I wanted to get a Private Mailbox instead of using my home address which I have used for the last 10 years in my consulting business.

I went to the local UPS store and inquired about the service. The woman told me about the options and I asked if I could use this address as my registered agent for the state. She said yes, no problem. I said you understand I am talking about a registered agent with the state. Again she said yes.

I went home and started to file the LLC paperwork for the new business. It provided a search for RA names and so forth. They were not listed. I called them back. The “owner” got on the line and began to curse me and tell me that she never said such a thing and that they do not want to do business with “my type” (not sure what that meant!)

I went back to the store to obtain a refund and when asking for the name of the owner, he came out from the back, got up in my face and stuck his name badge in my face. Again saying he does not need my type of business. He said you can complain to UPS but it won’t matter since he owns the store.

I left there thinking “I would never treat a customer or client like this… never”. In today’s world where almost everything is made outside this country and we are outsourcing everything left and right, the only thing we have is our customer service.

Ok end rant :)
— Allen

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