I call myself a designer, but I find that I somehow morph into other entities throughout the course of client relationships.
- Sounding board ("This isn't really related to design, but...what do you think about this idea? How would you implement it?")
- Counselor / Advisor ("I am having a tough time in this economy. I'm in danger of losing my house.")
- IT guru ("How do I set up email on my Blackberry?")
Those are just a few. I didn't set up shop to do these things, but it happens more often than I would have expected. I've developed some great relationships over the years. I think it's because I realize that my clients are people first, and clients second. This actually brings to mind a recent incident:
I've just had an experience with one of my service providers that left me unsatisfied. Due to poor service being provided repeatedly and with no end in sight, I needed to speak with the manager. Turns out, the manager was no different than the employees. He had the exact same mentality (giving canned responses and making excuses; instead of owning up to the problem, proactively correcting it, and seeing how they can make me happy again). In their eyes, I'm not a person. With larger businesses, that can happen sometimes. There's just too many customers to think about each one individually. This service provider didn't seem interested in having a relationship with me, at any level, not even as a customer. And so they've just lost my business.
Relationship is important. Yes, sometimes, I need to cut these conversations short (hey, I've got a business to run, after all), and yes there is definitely a line between personal and business (we're not always going to be best friends, sorry!). But, it's about building relationships, not just making a buck. And hey sometimes, by building relationships, you will make a buck. (That's the whole point of using social media to connect with customers, by the way).
So whether that turns me into a part-time counselor, advisor, or sounding board, I see it as a part of business. Heck, a part of life.
I wear so many hats, how could my head ever get cold?
What about you? How many hats are you wearing today?