Ever wonder how corporate experience can translate to self-employment? It seems like they would be too different. But, like any situation or experience, there are always lessons to be learned. From process improvements to customer service, opportunities to learn are everywhere.
My experiences in both small businesses and corporate have exposed me to a large range of customer service situations and perceptions. Today I am sharing some of what I have learned about logo design customer service, in particular.
- Create only enough concept options to encourage choice, not confusion
This applies to all logo design projects. I have found that providing multiple logo design concept options is not helpful to the client, or the designer. The designer’s job is to create as many concepts as are needed to present the client with a small selection of viable logo design options. Sharing ALL the concept designs only creates confusion for the client and increases the inability to make a decision. This often results in the client asking for MORE options, hoping they will “know it when they see it.”
- Always accept feedback sincerely, even if they don’t know what they are talking about
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “the customer is always right.” And I’m sure you’ve experienced a time when someone has NO CLUE. Here’s the thing, its good customer service to accept any and all feedback from your clients. LISTEN to what they are saying, and not necessarily how it’s said. The key is to let them know their input is important to the logo design process, and that they are contributing valuable feedback. They don’t need to understand design to know if they like the logo design concepts presented. It’s the designer’s job to make sure the concepts are good logo designs.
- Explain your design ideas with thoughtful reasons, not defenses
Much of the previous explanation applies here, also. A designer needs to remove their personal feelings from any logo design concepts presented to the client. Even though the logo design artwork belongs to the designer, it was not created for the designer, rather for the client. Often a short conversation to explain the reasons behind a logo design concept is enough for the client to see the design from a new perspective. Defensive reactions serve no purpose in good customer service, except to guarantee the client will just be a one-time customer.
- Be quick and concise with explanations, everyone is busy
No matter what the project is, quick and concise is always appreciated. If this is a challenge for you, and you know you like to ramble on (especially if your client is new, perceived as important, intimidating, or makes you nervous for any reason), then prepare yourself with some notes. Jot down brief explanations, and responses to possible questions. You’ll make a better impression by showing you are prepared for the conversation with a set of notes, over rambling any day.
- Because you are an in-house resource, there is no concept of monetary value on your work
This one should NOT translate to self-employment, yet it interferes. A career of graphic and logo design within a corporation can make it difficult to know how to value your work and what to charge when self-employed. This is because most corporate designers are paid a salary to be at the beck and call of multiple client departments, with no internal billing model to give value to their skills and experience. More than any other lesson learned, this one is the most difficult to translate to self-employment. Many people from corporate backgrounds would GIVE AWAY their services just because they enjoy what they do that much. Unfortunately, this doesn’t pay the bills. Corporate experience doesn’t help much in transitioning to self-employment models when the only rate comparison comes from paychecks and ad agencies. In reality, internal clients often take graphic and logo design skills for granted, treating them as free services. Turn this to your advantage, so you can truly appreciate every paying client who becomes part of your self-employment success story.
These are some of the lessons I have taken from corporate logo design experiences, and applied them to my solopreneur journey. It’s a work in progress, and I’m thankful every day that I made the decision to be self-employed.
Do you have any corporate lessons you’ve applied to self-employment? I’d love to hear about them. Share in the comments, and we can swap stories!
Till next time,