What empathising with our clients has taught us
Now Inktrap is 10 years young, it's a perfect time for us to reflect on how embracing empathy and a "client-centric" mindset has helped our studio.
Nowadays, agencies often get a bad rap – tales of hidden agendas, lack of transparency, and one-size-fits-all solutions dominate the narrative. Although negative experiences make better stories and probably amplify this sentiment, we know there is always room for improvement.
At Inktrap, we've made it our mission to truly understand the needs and frustrations of our users – our clients. We've aligned our product design principles with our client management methods, recognising that their experiences shape our success. With that in mind, we've gathered some insights from our clients, sharing with you their most crucial needs and frustrations and how we've looked to address them.
Our goal is simple: to build stronger, more collaborative relationships and consistently deliver results.
Asking the right questions
We know clients take a leap of faith when appointing an agency and that they need to be confident they have partnered with the right people: those who can bring their vision to life.
That's why we've developed a knack for starting conversations in a way that goes beyond the surface level. We dig deep and ask the questions that help us truly comprehend the client’s business, project objectives, and target audience. It's about getting to know them on a deeper level and understanding their unique requirements.
Through these discussions, we build trust and confidence with our clients. We want them to feel reassured that we're on the same page and genuinely understand their needs.
Challenging expectations - Going above and beyond
We know that clients may not always be aware of potential opportunities for improvement and depend on agencies to provide expertise and guidance, even when they have a defined project scope.
Instead of just nodding and going along with everything our clients say, we look to bring our experience and insights to the table by challenging assumptions, exploring new possibilities, and adding real value. Our goal is to help our clients achieve results by uncovering hidden opportunities and suggesting improvements they might not even have considered.
Facilitating Direct Conversations with Designers
We know that clients can often be frustrated when they are unable to directly access the “source” and obtain expert opinions, or when their feedback fails to reach the designers accurately.
To address this, we make sure to only include high-level project management services, encouraging designers to join calls and interact with clients directly. We believe in bringing everyone together in the same room as it fosters open discussions, constructive back-and-forths, and problem-solving sessions that truly make a difference.
Plus, when clients can put faces to the designs and see our commitment to their success, it's a real reassurance that their project is in good hands.
Transparency and Trust
We know that clients have a ton on their plate. With various projects, stakeholders to report to, and deadlines to uphold, it can feel overwhelming.
That's why transparency is absolutely crucial to us - we want our clients to have peace of mind and confidently update their stakeholders on how the project is going, knowing we've got everything under control. This gives them the freedom to concentrate on other important parts of their role.
To do so, we make sure to provide realistic timelines and keep our clients in the loop every step of the way, quickly addressing any concerns that may arise. We believe in open communication because it fosters an honest and collaborative dialogue, allowing us to work together towards the success of the project.
Articulating design decisions effectively
We know clients require reassurance, not only for themselves, but also to persuade stakeholders that the chosen approach to the project is aligned with the project goals.
Talking to people about designs might seem like a basic skill, but it can be difficult to do efficiently and well.
As experts in the field, it's on us to go beyond just showing off our designs. We need to articulate and demonstrate how our solutions perfectly align with both the business objectives and the goals of the users. When we do this, it's not just about reassuring our clients. It's also about giving them the tools they need to confidently pitch the solution to their own stakeholders.
Embracing flexibility, reactivity and problem solving
We know projects rarely stay static and encounter unexpected changes and challenges along the way that can be very stressful for our clients.
Whether it's an urgent presentation for the leadership team or a sudden legal issue that jeopardises the viability of current designs, a design studio that embraces flexibility is an invaluable asset.
As a small studio, we have the advantage of being able to quickly rework and prioritise our schedules to accommodate evolving circumstances. We look to actively suggest solutions and alternative designs, and with that, demonstrate our dedication to the project and the client's success. By being flexible and proactive, we can make our client’s life easier, alleviate some stress and ensure results even in the face of unexpected challenges!
Navigating organisational hierarchies and processes
We know that clients working in complex organisations often face a lengthy chain of command and intricate processes that involve multiple stakeholders with different priorities, perspectives, and expectations.
While it's not our main job to understand all the ins and outs of how the organisation operates, it's important for us to show genuine interest in grasping the chain of command, approval process, and how our project aligns with the overall business. Why? Well, it helps us in a few key ways.
First, it lets us anticipate any roadblocks, smooth out conversations, and stick to realistic timelines by getting a better handle on how approvals work. We want to avoid any unnecessary delays and keep things running smoothly.
Secondly, by gaining valuable perspective on both the project and the business as a whole, we can proactively address any potential challenges that might pop up.
Lastly, understanding the needs of different stakeholders allows us to adapt our communications and arguments to effectively engage with each one. We want to speak their language and address their concerns head-on. It's all about building that trust and making sure everyone feels heard and understood.
By following these principles, we can become true allies to our clients, empowering their vision, navigating challenges, and consistently going beyond expectations. At Inktrap, we have embraced these and witnessed the impact they have had on our client relationships and project outcomes. We believe that clients should seek agencies that exemplify these qualities, combining design skills with empathy, transparency, and a commitment to collaboration. Similarly, design agencies should prioritise these traits in their work culture and client relationships to foster enduring partnerships and deliver impactful design solutions.