|Slow Feedback from Web Client|
I'm a web designer, my client is a web designer.
After I receive a down payment, I create concepts and send them to my client. The problem is, he takes forever to respond with feedback - leaving the project open until who knows when.
This creates a problem for me because I never actually know when the project is going to be completed or when he'll pop back up (out of the blue) requesting changes. The problem I have is not KNOWING when I'll be asked to make changes and WHEN the project will be completed. This screws up my schedule when I don't know these things.
What's most important is that I be kept in a loop. Just some basic communication is all I need. If the client is running late, he should let me know that he's running late and that he'll contact me on a later date to give me feedback.
So recently, I contacted him and wrote out an agreement, stating all the above. The main focus was communication and my request to have him give me dates, and for him to honor those dates. The agreement was an email agreement. At the end of the agreement, it stated, "please reply with 'I agree', if you agree".
Well, he called me on the phone and said he agreed, but never replied to the email contract. I hate making people do stuff. I wish they would comply. I never told him, "Well if you agree, reply to the email with, 'I agree'."
My point is, its back to the same old routine. Sometimes I'll call and leave a message and don't get a response for days. Its always about feedback, but I don't get a response until he's ready to respond, and God knows when that'll be. He does give me a date when he'll have feedback, but it is not honored and if the date changes, he doesn't notify me. I'm still in the dark once again.
As a designer, I know that it gets tricky when working with clients. But at least he could give me dates and return my calls. And if the dates change, all he has to do is notify me.
Am I over-reacting here? Should I be more patient? Should I really expect this guy to call me with certain dates? I just wanna be notified and KNOW when things are going to happen.
My reluctance to make him sign the contract, came from thinking I was being pushy or strict, I'm now learning that I need to be strict in order to get what I want. I hate when I allow people the freedom to act right and then they disappoint me.
I'm starting to feel as I though I may be looked at as a push-over. What do I need to do, to keep this client and get what I want?
Perhaps I just need to talk to him again and tell him what I need.
[edited by: Nealreal at 2:44 pm (utc) on July 12, 2007]
|I hate making people do stuff. I wish they would comply. |
Dude, that makes you sound very much like the Borg... ;)
Anyway, I totally see your point. It's a common problem.
I can't pretend to have a solution, but here are a couple of thoughts:
It seems like you communicate in very different ways to each other. You prefer things in writing, he's prefers to talk. If you try to make him do things by email, you're probably going to beating your head against a brick wall.
I'm not really clear what you're trying to achieve by making him type out his agreement, as well as giving it verbally. The particular form of words is important to you for some reason? You think he'll be more committed? Why does it count less for you if he says it out loud than if he types it? I'm guessing maybe you want it in writing so you can show it to him later if he breaks his word - is that the reason? If it's not clear to me, maybe it's not clear to him.
In the situation you describe, you're not giving him any other choices than 'agree' or 'don't agree'. He either types what you tell him to (and then you're happy) or he doesn't (and then you're unhappy). Maybe if you negotiated with him - rather than telling him what you want and asking him to agree - then he'd be more likely to keep to the agreement, once it's made.
|I hate when I allow people the freedom to act right and then they disappoint me. |
I think maybe it would help to try and look at this with a clear, calm head. I know you're frustrated, but I don't think that putting this into a moral framework (thinking "he's acting wrong") will help you with your problem.
So anyway, it sounds to me as though the problem is that you've got very different ways of communicating, and different ways of working. You've got different expectations of what constitutes 'professional' conduct.
This isn't all that unusual, it's a common problem, particularly if you're working across cultural boundaries.
|Perhaps I just need to talk to him again and tell him what I need. |
A couple of suggestions which I hope could help:
- Sit down with him, in person, in a casual situation such as a pub or restaurant. Definitely don't do this by email, try not to do it over the phone.
- Let him know what the problem is. At the start of your post above, you said it was a problem with your schedule, but to me it sounds like more than that. The two of you are having trouble communicating effectively, and it's making you feel that he doesn't respect you professionally. It's up to you how much of this you tell him - could stick to saying it's a scheduling thing. But you should be sure in your own mind.
- Is this problem bad enough that you're prepared to take some action if it doesn't improve? Maybe you'd prefer not to work with him again unless you can work together to come to a solution, since your working styles are so different. If so, say that.
- Stay cool and calm, smell the flowers, don't blame him for not behaving the way you want him to, it's just a problem of different working styles, he's not insulting your mother or kicking you up the arse. ;) Your communication style isn't better than his, you're just different to each other.
If you try to make him work the way you work, then you're probably on a hiding to nothing. Try to find some middle ground.
I hope that's some help.
Incidentally - and somewhat OT - a terrific book about 'compliance' is "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down".
It's about a baby with epilepsy, and how while both doctors and parents want the best for her, they end up at loggerheads across a cultural boundary - it becomes an issue of the doctors forcing the parents to comply with them.
I just had to get my thoughts out. I agree with the comments. There is a communication gap and style. I just need to talk to him again and thats what'll do. Thanks Guys.
No worries Neal, hope it turns out well.
I've had this happen to me countless times. Its worse when a layout has been approved and all I'm waiting on is text from the client, and the site could be completed within days. I've also made the mistake of launching sites early, only to a have a client drag on minor text changes over the course of a few weeks.
I've finally come to the conclusion that there are two things that I need to put into writing in contracts. The first is an agreement that the client will pay their balance within a certain time frame, assuming that I've done my work on time and they are holding up project development. That way I'll at least get paid, and they can take their sweet time after that if they like. The second is simply not launching a site until 100% approval of a site is given, and that includes typos or other content changes. And the balance is due within a certain period of time after the site launches.
Or even if it's not in writing, it would be a plus to establish these things prior to project development.
I keep several websites going at once so when the client has a delay in sending data then it's not a big concern on my end and I can stay busy. I prefer smaller sites however.