Taking the time to develop a client workflow is one of the best things you can do for your business. You might have a great product & excellent marketing but if the process between initial contact & final results are unclear your business will suffer for it.
To create your own client workflow consider all the steps taken from the moment you connect with a client to the day the project is completed or they receive their product: emails, scripts, questionnaires, forms, calls, packaging, etc. Are there any contracts, legal documents or printed materials which need to be developed for each step? My example includes the process I use for a brand package but you should consider workflows for marketing, blogging, and even what you might do a few months after a project is completed.
Developing & using a client workflow is crucial for entrepreneurs because instead of wasting time figuring out where it should be spent, you have a clear cut outline for the next step. This also builds trust & professionalism with your customer since they know what to expect and when to expect it.
How I work
After getting a new request for designing someone’s brand identity, I start the client process.
1. Personal Client Page on my Website with questionnaires.
The template is already set up with copy & forms. I just need to personalize the header and tweak any questions needed so it is more relevant to this specific client. I break my questionnaires into three forms. This is less intimidating for the client & allows them to answer them piecemeal. The first form deals with basic contact information. The second form deals with the scope & needs of the project. The third form deals more with marketing and how the client wants to see their business grow in the coming years. This personal webpage is used throughout the entire process to showcases work, communicate, and deliver files. After these forms are filled out, we schedule a video chat consultation and handle the initial downpayment.
2. Video Chat Consultation
This has become my favorite part of my workflow. With all the scams and shadiness happening on the internet its just nice to have a conversation with the face behind the profile pic. Also this is a time for me to get to know the client and talk through the questionnaires with them. Brands are a businesses reputation. It’s how somebody feels about a business. This gives me a chance to get the vibe of the person I’m working with and get to hear their voice in the brand. After our consultation I’ll set up an invoice for half of the price of the remaining project, along with forms which need to be signed by both parties, and finalize the start date for the project based on my availability.
Having a video chat consultation also allows one last chance of knowing whether working together is a good fit. If for some reason there is an issue with the project, it gives opportunity to cancel before beginning design work.
[Monday & Tuesday, week 1]
This is the start date for the project. I go through pages and pages of sketches to get an idea of what I think the brand mark should look like for a particular business. After spending some time playing with the different directions a brand could go I start to boil it down to one or two options. The main thing I’m evaluating is whether the concepts are clearly communicating what we decided on was the thrust of the brand. And whether it is a mark that would be able to connect with the business’ customers. Instead of offering a bunch of options for the client to look over, I boil it down to one or two options which best reach the goals we are aiming for.
[Wednesday thru Friday, week 1]
After receiving approval on the direction of the brandmark, I start developing that sketch into a digital format. This process takes several days as it’s filled with constant reviews & edits. I’m considering the balance, weight & legibility of the mark in various formats. After finishing the mark I then have a soft-showing of their brandmark. This is when I’ll make any tweaks if necessary and finalize the design. The mark is complete and will no longer be edited after getting the clients approval.
[Monday – Wednesday, week 2]
With the brandmark complete I continue developing the other pieces associated with a brand’s visual identity. I create a custom color palette, pick out fonts, create a sub-mark or pattern which would compliment the brand and start designing collateral pieces. I offer a choice of 4 collateral pieces within the brand package: business cards, stationary, advertisement, social banner, blog template, etc.
6. Deliver (Finish!)
[Thursday – Friday, week 2]
After developing the different branding pieces, I’ll showcase the final work and make any final adjustments needed to the designs. After accepted I issue an invoice for the final payment. After payment, all the files are available for download in various formats. I also hand over a master file & rights for the brandmark, so that if the client wants to make changes in the future or have a different designer do it, they have that liberty.
Having these steps of the client workflow in place, I save time and increase focus. Since I and the client both know what is and is not being covered and what days they will be prioritized it allows us to be on the same page and clearly communicating for the task at hand. Too often I see creatives stuck on what they should do next and will literally drop several hours into tasks that will have to be redone in the future because they worked on things without have a clear workflow.
What steps have you found helpful in your client workflow?