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Smackdown: Graphic Designers vs. Clients Part III

Been There, Done That, and Been There Again
mad-customerSometimes a difficult customer can make you feel depressed, angry or both. But as they say, it's all part of the package when you work for clients.

Tak Robinson, a lead graphic designer, shares his story of a difficult client.

"One of our customers used us because we were known for fast service. He had to pay a premium but grudgingly did so to meet his tight deadlines.

"Then he started to drop off his work after our studio was officially closed for business. He knew we had a night crew and demanded that his projects be ready by the next day.

"This really disrupted our night shift's schedule in taking care of other rush jobs for the following morning. Our excellent night team was not happy."

What did Tak do? The rest of the story is at the end of this article. (As usual certain circumstances and names have been changed to protect the innocent and guilty.)

Difficult Clients
Most of the time, clients are reasonable. But there are always customers who stretch your patience to the max.
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As Jill the graphic designer indicated, you can't really tell off a customer the way she did. But in rare cases where compromise or a mutual understanding isn't working, it may be the better part of valor to diplomatically turn down the job.

Kristen Holden of SitePoint offers this advice:

"The easiest way to deal with problem clients is to not take them on board in the first place.

"Avoid feeling compelled to accept every piece of work you come across. Some clients are truly not worth the extra effort spent on managing them. Over time, you actually lose money."

With that said make sure that you are doing the best you can to be professional and understanding in order to find a solution that will keep both you and your client relatively happy.

Graphic Design School and Customer Relations
The first priority for going to a graphic design college is to get a strong education in design and art. The secondary purpose is to prepare you for career opportunities upon graduation.

How you relate to your fellow peers in graphic design school, how you handle the pressure of deadlines, and your ability to produce consistently good work under adverse circumstances helps you in providing good customer service.

the-thinker-by-rodin-2Hard Decisions
In a perfect world there should never be a circumstance where you need to turn down a client. But as we all know this isn't a perfect world. Turning down a client must be done in a pragmatic and logical manner after all other avenues to work with the client have been closed.

In some cases a job may not be financially sound for your business. In extremely rare cases the client is unreasonable and unrealistic concerning expectations, deadlines or final costs.

Let's find out the rest of the story concerning our graphic designer and the difficult client.

"His demands were becoming increasingly over the top for us and we had to make a decision to tell our night staff to charge him premium-rush-overtime to complete his work ahead of our other clients.

"The funny thing is he never complained about the extra charges. He started to drop off his work during the daytime again instead of at night. Eventually we figured out that he was always behind in his work and passed his hectic deadlines on to us.

"We wanted to drop him as a client but things worked themselves out for us. We think his company fired him because another graphic artist took his place."

Next Time...
We hope you've enjoyed this series about Graphic Designers vs. Clients. In the next few weeks we'll take a look at the creative processes of graphic design and see how good ideas can sometimes backfire.

Until then, keep on designing!


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AAS Graphic Design
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Graphic Arts (AAS)
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Graphic Design, Bachelor of Science (Online)
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Graphic Design (BS)
  • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
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