How We Operate - The Potential ClientApr 18th 2012 // Permalink
This is the first post in a series titled “How We Operate” — practical applications we use to run our web studio, Bold. Our hopes are that these applications are both practical and useful for anyone trying to build a studio, go freelance or somewhere in between.
The Potential Client
Clients. Our lifeline (this is after all a client services industry). At Bold, our clients find us a variety of ways. Sometimes it’s referral, sometimes it’s repeat business, other times it’s an organic search that landed them on our website. The first point of contact is usually an email via our Contact form. This is a simple communication without too much project detail, but enough to let us know that they’re interested in hearing from us.
Nine times out of ten, we respond and ask the potential client to fill out our more complete Project Inquiry form. That one time out of ten it’s clear that it’s a project we should say no to, and we do, but most of the time we kindly request that the client take a few minutes to fill out our Project Inquiry form (a simple Wufoo form). It’s a simple questionnaire consisting of 5 targeted questions that help us evaluate and gauge the project. I can’t emphasize enough how important this step is for us in determining whether or not this project is a good fit.
Some of the questions are standard, what is your timeline, your budget, what are the final deliverables. But some of our other questions are more targeted towards seeing if the client can articulate their project goals. Questions like “What tasks do you want visitors to achieve when they visit the site”, and “How will you measure the success of the site” let on to how well the client knows what their goals are, and let us know exactly what we would be working to achieve. If all of those answers line up, we follow up with the potential client and request a phone call.
A phone call with the potential client can be a time consuming process (one that you can’t charge for) so it’s important that you’ve vetted the client as best you can up to this point. When we initiate a phone call, it’s almost like a first date. We get a chance to talk about what we do, our methodologies, philosophies and practices and the client gets a chance to talk more about their project and where they see Bold fitting in it. We always have blank TextEdit open during the call and write down as much as we can. Client services is as much about the client as it is about the work. We take notes about everything from personal quips about life to subtle suggestions about technologies. You would be surprised at how much you can learn about a client just by listening. This file gets saved as a notes.rtf and placed into a folder on our Dropbox called Projects - Quoted.
In my next How We Operate post I’ll talk about our process for quoting a potential client, how we estimate our time and structure our quotes.