A sentence I am sure you never want to hear from a client, “This is not what I had in mind.” In the beginning of my career, I could not understand why anyone would say this to me. In my mind, I had done exactly what we had earlier discussed and how I had envisioned it.
I want to share with you a story that happened to me years ago with one of my clients. I created a bridal bouquet for a client and was so proud of how it had come out. The client had not seen it and I handed it to her right before she walked down the aisle. When she saw it, she began to cry. At first, I thought they were tears of joy, but quickly figured out she was upset when she uttered those dreaded words, “Preston, this is not what I had in mind.” Years later, I ran into her and she still thinks I ruined her wedding.
After this experience, I learned that it is very important that you give your client as much information as possible about what are creating for them before the event.
Here are my recommendations:
- MAKE CLEAR NOTES: In your first client meeting, make sure to write as many notes as possible including your clients likes and dislikes. After the meeting, send your client a copy of your notes to make sure you are both on the same page. They may want to add or remove something.
- FULL PRESENTATION: Before the event, you should give your client a full presentation of the work you will be doing. A very powerful tool is to use Visuals using drawings, photographs, CAD programs, etc. You can even use simple programs like Keynote or Power Point.
TIP: Never ever do this before they are fully committed to your services with a contract or payment. Visual presentations are a very powerful tool. It could be done through drawings (there are a lot of great CAD programs, or you can even use something as simple as PowerPoint or Keynote), photographs, or whatever is appropriate.
- CREATE SAMPLES: This is one of the most effective ways to make sure your client gets what they expect. Use the materials and items you will be using at the event so your client can see and touch (linens, cutlery, plates) . In my experience, these are very powerful moments of tears and joy. Once the client loves what you are creating, take a photo of everything and make sure you keep a copy so you can avoid the sentence “This is not what I had in mind.”
- PREPARE A DOCUMENT IN FULL DETAIL: You should write your services in as much detail as possible and go through each one step by step with your client. Have them sign at the end and wish for the best.
Do you think you should offer some kind of compensation to clients after an apology?