Customer service is a key aspect of the interior design agency. With the competitive nature of the design industry, potential clients have many options when it comes to interior design. This is why great interior designers know how to work with clients and provide a product which is creative as well as flexible to the client’s needs. This is the difficult part of interior design: How do we stay true to our style and meet client’s needs with flexibility and artistry? This difficult balance causes some interior designers to lose clients; this balance also causes some interior designers to work on projects in which they have no passion. By understanding the principles of great customer service, we can better serve our clients and help them improve their spaces in a creative way.
The following are keys to working with clients:
1. Listen Carefully.
Listening to the point of deep understanding is a must in the interior design business. If a client does not feel you are listening to them, they will move on to their next option. As an interior designer, you must work hard to show you care about your client’s project.
According to Christina Holbrook McEntee of Forbes Magazine,
Most of us don’t really listen very well. Or if we do manage to listen, we are often just waiting until the other person finishes so that we can say what is on OUR mind. And that’s not really listening. Over time the result of this is that we seal ourselves off from other people, we don’t really know them, or really understand their concerns. Eventually, as our lives move on, we may become more and more isolated. When we listen, we allow the creative fountain to start up, the spirit, the intelligence, the imagination. And by not listening, whether it be in business or personal life, that fountain will run dry.
It is important that we listen carefully. As we listen to clients, our creativity will expand. Our creativity is connected to our understanding of our client and their individual needs.
2. Avoid Jargons.
Most of our clients do not have a background in interior design. They hire us because they need individual solutions to their design problems. If we speak with design jargon when consulting with our clients, they do not understand what we are saying. By using language which clients can understand, we deepen our relationships with them. Miscommunication happens when we refuse to speak with our clients in a way they can understand.
3. Be patient.
With our experience and education in design, it can be easy to lose patience with a client. As a professional, we want to move forward with a project and see it completed. When a client changes their mind about a design, it can be frustrating and time consuming. Though using patience can be challenging, in the long run, it always enhances our relationship with our clients. Being patient with our clients allows them to trust us more.
Doctor Judith Orloff of Psychology Today says,
Patience doesn’t mean passivity or resignation, but power. It’s an emotionally freeing practice of waiting, watching, and knowing when to act. I want to give patience a twenty-first-century makeover so you’ll appreciate its worth. Patience has gotten a bad rap for the wrong reasons. To many people, when you say, “Have patience,” it feels unreasonable and inhibiting, an unfair stalling of aspirations, some Victorian hang-up or hangover. Is this what you’re thinking? Well, reconsider. I’m presenting patience as a form of compassion, a re-attuning to intuition, a way to emotionally redeem your center in a world filled with frustration.
Though some people see patience as a waste of time, patience can cause you to be successful and innovative. By being patient with your client, you allow your client to share their inner thoughts and feelings. This client openness helps designers to create spaces which delight and inspire.
4. Be sincere.
Clients can sense when we are insincere. We must strive to show we care about our clients, their spaces, and their design projects.
Alton C. Thompson says the following about sincerity:
Sincerity can be defined briefly as saying and writing with honesty, without an attempt to deceive those hearing or reading one’s words. At times, of course, one may choose to allow some other virtue—such as protecting others from needless hurt or harm—to override the virtue of sincerity. Generally speaking, however, it is a virtue that should always be practiced—for if one lacks integrity in one’s thought and behavior, one not only weakens the “glue” that holds the society together, but does damage to oneself psychologically.
When we are sincere with our clients, we show them we care about their individual needs and desires. Without sincerity, we come across as cold and disinterested with our clients’ lives.