How to turn clients into friends

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You might be an amazing designer, but if you want the money to roll in, unless you're extremely fortunate, talent alone isn't going to cut it. Face it, you're going to have to deal with clients, which can be a daunting prospect for many creatives who'd rather keep their heads down and get on with the work.

For Natasha Field, account manager at Fiasco, getting on with clients is her daily business. In this short video, she explains why a small, friendly studio suits her more than a large agency – and how Fiasco's 'family' vibe translates to its client relationships.

And here, Field reveals her five tips for building and maintaining great relationships with clients...

01. Build trust

Fiasco's website for Pelican Books delivers "an innovative online reading experience", and won several awards – including a D&AD Pencil

Fiasco's website for Pelican Books delivers "an innovative online reading experience", and won several awards – including a D&AD Pencil

"I treat every client relationship like I would a friendship in terms of good communication and trust," says Natasha Field, account manager at Fiasco. "When clients trust us and we trust them, it helps move the project along." Plus if something does go wrong, it'll be easier to resolve.

02. Act human

In the past, Field sometimes felt she wasn't being herself when talking to clients. "The way I spoke to them wasn't very human and seemed robotic, and I wasn't building relationships because that's not how you build relationships." She advises remembering that everyone has good days and bad days: "If they're having a bad day, you can just be there to talk."

03. Don't burn bridges

For its brand overhaul of Bristol cultural hub The Tobacco Factory, Fiasco was inspired by the building's original industrial roots

For its brand overhaul of Bristol cultural hub The Tobacco Factory, Fiasco was inspired by the building's original industrial roots

Fiasco was recently re-hired for a client they'd worked for five years previously, suggesting that sometimes you might have to wait to bear the fruits of your good relationships. "You don't know when a project comes in whether or not that's going to lead to more work," she says. The lesson? Every client is worth investing in. 

04. Be flexible

"Each client is different in the way they work, so some need a bit more explanation, whereas some just let us run with it and won't need so many face-to-face meetings," says Field. "You have to flexible in how that client wants or needs to work." 

05. Immerse yourself

October 2017 saw Fiasco's sister company, thread, put on Bristol's first major design festival, Something Good

October 2017 saw Fiasco's sister company, thread, put on Bristol's first major design festival, Something Good

A good account manager should be an extension of the client, and be able to pre-empt their feedback, adds Field. "The only way to do this is immerse yourself so that you understand them – who they, what they do and their core values."

This article was originally published in issue 275 of Computer Arts, the world's best-selling design magazine. Buy issue 275 here or subscribe to Computer Arts here.

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