How Designers Can Build Healthy Client Relationships

You can build successful client relationships right from the start

In this interview, projekt202 Senior Experience Designer Jess Moss discusses her experience in building client trust, empathy and understanding.

Watch the video now. A transcript also follows below:

Hi, my name's Jess Moss and I'm a senior experience designer at projekt202.

I design enterprise software. One of my jobs is to build relationships with our clients right from the start.

Where do designers fit? Designers are on the front lines with product and interact with clients right from the start. They set the stage for a healthy relationship.

What is intimidating to designers? Clients can be intimidating because you don't know them and they don't know you. It's always hard to meet someone new who depends on you for their success.

What are your client's fears? It's important to understand your client's fears. They have worked hard to acquire budgets and must show return on investment to their stakeholders. The pressure can be immense.

What is your goal? Your goal as a designer is to balance your expertise and incorporate their needs and opinions about the design of their product. They hired you for your talents, but trust has not been built.

So how do you start off on the right foot?

Get to know your clients before you meet them. LinkedIn is a great source to understand your client's background and experiences. You can even build a persona around them if you will.

Take it upon yourself to look into the business development materials. These are project briefs, proposals, statement of works and bill of estimates. Understand the context of the project and ask questions where you don't understand. These insights help you understand what the company and the client has signed off on.

Be present. If you're unable to introduce yourself in person, utilize the video feature in your virtual meetings. I've had a client comment on how they adopted the practice because of how it helped our relationship in a personal way.

If you're lucky enough to be an in-person introduction, consider facilitating a workshop to further understand their product and product goals and analyze how they express themselves.

So how do you introduce yourself?

Introducing yourself is scary and vital. This one time, I explained that I was an experienced designer on the project. The response was, “Yeah, I know.” I took this as a compliment.

Whether you look the part or not, it's important to represent yourself accurately.

So, what about the rest of your team? If you'll be working with the development team, whether your company's or theirs, attend all agile rituals throughout the engagement. This includes scrum, backlog grooming, sprint planning, demos and retros.

Your job is to build trust and to execute. I encourage you to express your personality and show empathy to the needs of your clients from the get-go. When implemented correctly, that buzzword is very powerful.

projekt202 is the leader in experience-driven software strategy, design and development. We have a unique and established methodology for understanding people in context — we reveal unmet needs — which drives everything we do. This leads to a crisp, clear understanding of the customer, which shapes the design and development of new solutions and experiences. We have the expertise, teams, skills and scale to deliver sophisticated software solutions that improve any and all touchpoints across the user journey.

projekt202 has spent over 15 years bringing to life and to market compelling experiences through our Experience Strategy & InsightUser ExperienceSoftware DevelopmentMarketing & Analytics, and Program Management practices. Our talented team has delivered emotionally-rich and intuitive solutions for global brands and clients such as 7-Eleven, Capital One, Dell, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, Neiman Marcus, Samsung Electronics, and The Container Store, among many others.

projekt202 has offices in AustinChicagoDallas, San Francisco and Seattle.