How many times have you reached a crucial point in the development of a project and said, ‘I thought you were taking care of that…’ or more worryingly, ‘This is not what we agreed at the initial meeting’?…
Excellent service is a critical aspect of any successful web development project. In principle, client service is simple – communicate well, be nice, and clients will be happy; but it’s amazing how many digital and design agencies get it wrong. When looking to appoint an agency for your project, it’s worth looking out for the 5 signs that you have found an agency you can trust.
This isn’t about speaking to you as though you’re stupid. You’re not. You know a great deal about your business, but this doesn’t mean that developers should expect you to know (or get excited) about some of the more technical aspects of theirs. What you do need to know is how each suggestion for your website is going to enhance your business. What exactly will it allow you and your customers to do? How will their plans support your long term business strategy? An agency should never assume that you are familiar with the technical jargon associated with web development. If you do happen to be a techno geek, great; failing that, they’ve got some explaining to do.
Projects should directly involve clients from the word go. It’s vital that your agency understands your business and its aspirations. No one is an expert in all industries, so it’s about them doing their homework. Sometimes, in more niche areas, it’s about them being honest about their lack of knowledge and quizzing you to find out more about what you really do. They should be asking you key questions; What is your story? Who are your biggest competitors? What do you truly value? Experienced agencies know there’s no such thing as a stupid question if it leads to everyone having a shared vision.
There is sometimes a tendency for design agencies to offer the earth in terms of the timescales they can deliver. This can only lead to two things; disappointment because the deadline is not met, or disappointment in the quality of the final design because the project wasn’t given the time it deserved. Early in the project, your agency should provide a process outline which makes clear, week-by-week, what you can expect from them (and should allow additional time for associated partners such as photographers, copywriters etc.) and what the agency requires from you to keep things moving. Having this sort of concrete agreement prevents tasks from being lost in translation.
It’s important that your agency are always at the end of the phone, that they respond swiftly to your emails and that they can make themselves available to meet face-to-face when necessary. They should always follow up on any action points agreed and communicate the outcomes, good or bad – not hearing from your agency can lead to you feeling as though you need to ‘chase them up’, or worse still, you may assume that nothing is happening on the project, which is rarely the case. A strong agency shouldn’t be too busy making progress to let you know that they’re making progress!
Everyone makes mistakes, including designers and developers. The best thing they can do is be honest and tell you what they are going to do moving forwards. Although it’s not always a comfortable conversation at the time, ultimately, it’s easier to respect an agency that deals with things head on. Most technical problems or oversights can be fixed, but broken trust does not fall into this category. It’s important for agencies to maintain their integrity. It’s what makes for successful long term partnerships.