In business “the customer is always right”. This is the mantra we all know, it’s taught in every business school and is repeated in advertising ad nauseam; but is this actually true?
To do business well and provide our customers the best service we are capable of we strive to help them feel that they are right even when they are in truth very wrong.
How Much Can You Take?
There is a limit however, to what anyone doing business with the public should have to endure.
We all know that it is not acceptable to be rude to wait staff in restaurants or any other service profession yet….I’m going to speak quite frankly here; many people think nothing of treating their interior designer (or architect) like crap.
Expecting vs. Demanding
Everyone in the design industry wants to give the best service they possibly can to their clients. That said it is imperative that the client allow enough time and space for the design professional to give the level of service their business model claims.
Calling and leaving gruff voice mails early in the morning or late in the evening (or any time), sending multiple text messages or e-mails every day, leaves no time for the designer to attend to other clients.
It also creates an atmosphere for the designer to not have any mental space to create beautiful solutions because they are spending too much time putting out inconsiderate emotional fires from the rudely demanding client.
Demanding that the designer work on your project until all hours of the evening and every weekend leaves no room for the designer to think, let alone create.
It is normal to expect courteous, considerate attention to your project and proposed timeline however, expecting is very different than demanding and the client experience as well as the client designer relationship will suffer greatly if you treat the designer and their team as merely the “hired help” and not as a human being like yourself.
Practice Courteous Communication
People want to work with those that acknowledge their hard work. It is much easier to go above & beyond general service expectations for the client that shows appreciation for extra efforts. A genuine please and thank you can go quite far in establishing a desire, manifesting in actions to do more for the client who practices common courtesies.
Consider that the design industry is performed by people, human beings just like yourself. How do you want to be treated at your workplace?
Nit-Picking = Negativity
You will always find what you are looking for; every, single, time. If you constantly look for faults you will indeed encounter them.
Nothing is ever completely perfect and if something is a gross error your designer will do everything they can to repair, replace or refund an item in order to give you the satisfaction and end result of quality.
However, nit-picking, focusing on errors that were resolved or solved is very negative and will not yield a good experience for yourself or your designer. Unless something is truly terrible and cannot be rectified to satisfaction there is no need to look for wrong amidst everything that is right.
Instead, look to the overall transformation they have created. Is the result stunning? Does it function better than previously? Are you just a bit more house proud now than before?
This is what you should focus upon, all the wonderful new beauty that the designer and installation team has completed. If you do you will experience greater happiness and likely pain in your cheeks from smiling more than usual….the best result possible, working those smiling muscles!
Not Paying or Not Paying on Time
A signed contract is an agreement between the client and designer, both parties are obligated to fulfill their agreement. This includes paying the designer’s invoices in full and by the due date. Most designer’s invoices are due upon receipt so waiting 2 or 3 months to pay makes you an untrusworthy client.
Not paying your invoices and/or not paying on time is very disrespectful behavior towards your designer. How would you feel about your employer if you had to repeatedly ask for them to pay you or if they were consistently late (weeks & weeks late) in giving you your paycheck?
How do you think this would affect your emotional well-being, your ability to continue to show up and do your job well? Would you want to continue to work for that person or company? It would have an overall negative impact on your quality of life and personal relationships without a doubt.
Creating excuses, looking for flaws or fabricating errors in your mind to justify not paying is wrong and unacceptable. Keeping your side of the agreement will guarantee a much better relationship with your designer and thus a better design experience for you.
Dialogue and Correspondence
Hands down, verbal abuse is a deal breaker. Swearing, yelling, shouting or threatening anyone is not acceptable under any circumstance. Grumpy, brusque e-mails and voice mails are also not necessary or acceptable when communicating either a need, request or statement of dis-satisfaction.
Insults or putdowns and barbs towards the designer or their team is just as bad as foul language and is emotional abuse. This seems obvious to anyone reading this but you would be surprised how people behave with other professionals during an interior design project; think an adult digression to the age of two with full-on turrets.
What to do if You are Not Happy
If you are not happy with the work or have any feeling of disappointment then you should state your position in a dispassionate, clear and respectful conversational manner and tone that is free and void of insults, threats or putdowns. This will help create a positive communication with your designer, giving them a more grounded style of data to work with to then offer an acceptable solution or discount.
Your designer wants you to be happy and if they have clear, respectful communication from you they can then resolve with you whatever your complaint is. Have the respect for them to do this, you may end up with a better design result and of course will have a much more positive experience.
Remember it’s only an interior design project, it is not causing you any harm. Neither you nor anyone you love is in the hospital bleeding to death for taking on this choice (some perspective is necessary here). You have chosen to do this, it is a temporary (and fabulous) situation that you will indeed survive very well.
Being Cheap and Micro Managing
These two seem like different things but they frequently go hand-in-hand. Many people assume that after they contract with a designer they can save money by not communicating with their designer (e.g. not paying them for their time) and take on the role of project manager. There are too many reasons to list here why this is a terrible choice, please take my word for it. It is one of the worse choices you can make for your design project.
But I will tell you that the number one reason is that you don’t have the education or experience to take on project management for interior design. Not even for your own home no matter how many kitchen remodels etc. you have been through. Again, please trust me, I know of what I speak.
Think of it this way, if an interior design firm was hiring for the position of project manager do you truly believe that you would be a viable candidate for that salaried position?
Do you honestly think they would consider you to represent their company to their clients, able to perform to their excellent business standard, keeping their good reputation? The answer is a resounding NO! They would not. Your DIY experience does not add up to the required education, training and extensive experience necessary to effectively project manage for their clients. This includes you as a client.
The result is that you will not save money at all. Instead you will cost yourself more money for the mistakes you make (lack of knowledge/experience) having to pay to fix those mistakes perhaps many times over. Being cheap by cutting corners more often than not costs more than paying full price in the first place
If you hire an expert for a project then please defer to them…..they are the expert after all. You will save yourself oodles of time and money by doing so.
Are You Potentially a Good Client?
It all depends on expectations and ability to communicate your needs, dreams, pie in the sky fantasy wish for a better ______________ (you fill in the blank) with a realistic understanding of cost and true respect for the design experts.
If you value quality, uniqueness, having an appreciation for delayed gratification and have a life of your own, allowing others to do the work you are hiring them for then great, please give us a call! We’d love to help you realize your perfect ____________ !