One of the things I get asked often is "Do you do all these services yourself?" The answer of course is no, there wouldn't be enough hours in a day, and also I'm not always the best person for the job and I freely admit that I'm great at what I do, which now is primarily consulting and project management (and yes I'm an all rounder and can do most of the services I offer, since I began just working on my own with clients) but other people are often great at what they do (much better than me in certain things) and because of this I utilise other talented people within my business. So how do you work with (or outsource to) a team, when you're not doing the work yourself, while still providing a great personal service to your clients? I've got you covered in today's post!
Let's take a specific example or scenario here and look at the provision of creative services within your business when you're not a designer yourself, and you've hired a freelancer or independent contractor to work with you as part of your team to deliver this service to the client. This is just one type of scenario, but I think it will be easy to see how this is adaptable to other services you provide.
Don't be the middle man.
When you outsource or hire a designer (this isn't always the case with other services like marketing for example) I would always suggest that when hiring you keep in mind that the client will need to work directly with the designer. Becoming a middle man where you're passing work back and forth as messages between the client and designer, wastes everyone's time - yours, the client's and the designer's, because of the delay in the interim, so make sure the designer you hire has good people skills as well as good design skills.
Straight from the horse's mouth.
So to speak, not literally!
Because the designer is generally the creative mind behind the design, in my opinion the designer should always deliver their own design work back to the client for review and adjustments, if you deliver the work, the client might ask you a question relating to how you came up with idea, or why this was done, or what do you think if this was blue instead of pink, and if you don't have the answers it can just become a bit time consuming and messy.
Jump into the discussion when you're needed, manage the client's expectations, and manage when the designer responds, but don't be the one trying to do it all. It could be a recipe for problems in some cases.
Guiding your team member.
As service providers we should always take responsibility for how our team or the people we hire interact with the client (click to tweet), this will mean they have some basic guidelines to follow in order to help ensure they don't say something they shouldn't or forget to say something they should.
To cover all your bases you need to always make sure you provide a structure for the team member to follow when interacting with the client as a representative of your business.
Provide this template to your designer as a guide for when they're working with your client, it should cover nearly all your design oriented bases. Your designer will need to add only the pieces that are applicable, these are just examples:
1. If you have not had contact with the client before, introduce yourself.
e.g Hi [Client Name], my name is [team member's name], I'm the designer working with [your name, the business owner] on your project.
2. Explain the brief of what you did (just a summary) in your own words.
e.g. You've asked us to create a Facebook page to represent your company website, using specific images and fonts from the brief on this discussion.
3. If we have eliminated any specific requests made from the brief, we must explain why those were not included.
e.g. I know you requested us to include X and Y but when putting the design together in my professional opinion it didn't work well, X was an issue because ... and Y was an issue because ... did you still want to see a version with X and Y added to show a visual of these issues?
4. If we have any suggestions on how it could be improved, explain them.
e.g. I think if we were to change the image then XYZ could work, or alternatively we could do ABC.
5. Ask for feedback from the client.e.g. I hope this helps, this is just the first draft, so let me know what your thoughts are and we can take it from there.
By using the structure above you're really reducing the risk of any misunderstandings or poor communication between the client and team member, the more they use the template the more naturally they'll communicate in this fashion with the client and the smoother the overall service will be - try it!