How to achieve great customer experience.
This text is aimed at both customers and creative people.
There are more and more freelance graphic designers and illustrators on the market. I wanted to write this article because I sometimes get contacted by new clients who tell me they haven’t been satisfied with the service and/or the experience they had with the previous creative with whom they worked. They often complain about the lack of professionalism, poor quality results, unexpectedly high bills or poor communication…
I can only recommend that you first read this article: Looking for an illustrator or graphic designer?
Here are some tips I give my clients: Be wary of low prices… for example you should avoid working with a graphic designer who offers to create your logo for 300 euros.
Creating a logo takes a lot of work, different graphic proposals, in short it’d take at least several days of work. So with this kind of price you can not expect any miracle. You’ve been warned 😉
Here are a few non-exhaustive rules that I apply systematically.
Règle n°1 : Le briefing
Listening to the customer’s request is key. Sometimes I stay on the phone with my client for an extended period of time to really understand what they are looking for. After this conversation and to avoid forgetting anything, I always ask for a complete written down brief. What should this brief include? The desired result, potential examples/models and the illustrations’ final medium.
Rule n°2: The order form
This step is essential ! This is what I include in my order forms :
– All of the elements that should feature in my artwork (example: the number of characters, the scenes that need to be illustrated, the number of mascots’ variations).
The order form protects the customer in case the creative forgets any element but also protects the artist if the client ends up having additional requests.
– The number of modification requests my clients may have. Three modifications are fine but beyond that number I may have to charge more, especially if they are major modifications. I will charge modifications on a half-day or full-day basis depending on the demand. If the touch-ups are minor (change of colour for example), I will not charge anything. I believe it is important to remain flexible.
– What use will be made of the illustrations (the transfer of rights). I indicate this systematically, in order to avoid any misunderstanding. It could become a problem to see one’s creation in 4/3 in the metro, or in a TV spot when this had not been indicated beforehand. It is important to understand that an illustrator makes a living out of his illustrations but also from his ownership (copyright), just like a musician or a photographer does.
– The type of file I am delivering: in JPG 30 DPI, CMYK or RGB, or the source file etc…
The delivery of a source file can lead to more price negotiation. However, it is not uncommon to make a source file delivery when the illustrations are animated or printed in very large format.
– Finally, I sometimes ask new clients to provide a deposit (ranging from 30 to 40%) especially when it comes to large budgets and projects requiring a lot of time for creation.
Rule n°3: The signature
I never work until the order form is signed! This is a golden rule! Indeed, at the beginning of earlier projects,I tended to work without the signed purchase order, but with a simple oral agreement from the client. I quickly realised that this was not a good idea. If the customer can’t send me back the signed order form to me by email (no scanner or anything else), I will ask for a written approval by email. However, if the customer has a printer, I still ask for this confirmation by post. For information, the simple written validation by e-mail is legally indisputable.
Rule 4: The Creation process
During my creative process, it is important to involve the client. I systematically share sketches, ask if they need any touch-ups.. Here’s an example of a mascot design with sketches, annotations, retouching and colouring.
So the best way for me to avoid any misunderstanding, is to start with a sketch, have it validated and then move on to the colouring.
A successful order is one where the customer is involved in the creative process.
You can also find here my working method: from the sketching to colouring.
Rule 5: The Invoicing
On the invoice, I indicate all the work that has been done. Normally the invoice should include all the work listed on the quotation.
It is accompanied by all the supporting documents:
– Exemption from withholding tax
– The certificate of affiliation to the Maison des Artistes
– Certificate of Vigilance
– The IBAN can also be used for payment 😉
As a freelance illustrator and graphic designer, I put myself in the client’s shoes as much as possible and try to stay ahead of their needs. I offer graphic solutions or ideas in order to have a work that lives up to their expectations. I protect my clients and also protect myself by establishing a clear and precise order form. I involve my clients in my creative process (from sketching to colouring).
So, if you need my services or have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me by email or by phone via the contact section.