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Serving your customer

Part of a Web project manager's job is customer service. Providing good customer service can help ensure that your clients are happy, and that can help you build a solid reputation. The following list describes four important aspects of customer service:

  • Communicate often and minimize jargon. You must communicate often about the status of the project so that your client knows what's going on. Communicating with clients, however, can be a little awkward — don't talk down to them, but also, don't use a lot of jargon (which can make a less‐than‐Web‐savvy person feel stupid). Try to ease into the techno‐talk gently unless you're sure they speak geek too.

  • Stay professional. Web jobs can be a lot of fun for everyone if they're well run and everyone has a good attitude. Unfortunately, sometimes you won't mesh well with a client. If that happens, you must keep a professional attitude, do the work, treat the client with respect, and just suffer through it. That's business. However, in rare situations — for instance, if a client becomes abusive — you might find it impossible to continue working with that client. In that case, you must decide how to wrap things up with the client; you can either finish the job or hand it off to another designer. Either way, you must carefully explain to the client that they would be better off working with someone else. For those rare occasions when a working relationship goes sour, be sure that your contract allows you to get out of an abusive situation.

  • Know when to say no to a project. Accepting every job that comes your way might seem like a good idea. It isn't. Some clients don't have the money or game plan in place to make it worth your time to work with them. If you are wasting time on someone who can't make a commitment, you could be missing out on a client that is ready and able to start a project. If a client isn't ready right now, stay in touch with him. He will appreciate your interest in his project and might just give you the job when it's time.

  • Take only projects that you can execute well. Your portfolio and reputation are important. Delivering a good product is a great thing, and your client will recommend you to their colleagues — that's free advertising. Delivering a bad product can have the opposite effect — you might lose that client and anyone who asks them for advice on hiring a Web designer. This doesn't mean that you should never take a project unless you can do every part of it. If a project has some components you can't do on your own, call in a specialist — make sure you let the client know you're working with a team. The fewer surprises to your client, the better off you will be.


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