StormBiz Blog

Everything you need to know about website design, website hosting, graphic design, our website design courses and more...

What to Do When a Client is Ticked Off

angry customer on phoneAngry Customer on PhoneMy client Jerry was threatening to sue. Worse, my programmer was dragging his feet and didn't see the seriousness of Jerry's threats. I was on the phone with Jerry for hours at a time.

The custom ordering system we designed for Jerry's web site needed some small changes that really weren't affecting the performance of his site. Jerry kept saying that the whole system was flawed and that it needed to be completely redone. However, he already had more than 600 sales adding up to more than $100,000. What to do?

We eventually got all the problems fixed up but Jerry ended up having the site and ordering system redone by another company so Jerry was now out of my hair. Was this a good thing or a bad thing?

Customer retention is crucial in all businesses and handling ticked off customers is a part of growing great long-term relationships. Sometimes you choose not to retain a customer even if they are happy with the work you're doing. The time and energy they cost you isn't worth the money you make from them.

High and Fire Clients Judiciously

Reflecting on the situation with Jerry, I probably shouldn't have ever taken him as a client because he smelled of trouble from the outset. The first time I came into Jerry's shop he was arguing with a customer while I waited. He was unbending and wasn't willing to make concessions.

Malcolm Gladwell writes of this in his book, "Blink". We need to be aware of when something doesn't feel right and do something about it before getting in too deep. I should have just walked. Advertising guru David Ogilvy proudly admitted that he fired more clients than fired him.

It takes bravado and diplomacy to drop a client, especially if they are a big source of income. You have to weigh the headaches they cause with the checks that are deposited in your bank account. Are they worth it?


boundariesSet BoundariesSetting Expectations Early and Realistically

I lost another client around the same time because I did not set expectations. Daniel and I had more of a friendship than a client/vendor relationship. He looked and smelled like a good client, but I realized later that he was a problem. He took a lot of my time and had too high of expectations for the work we were doing for the price he was paying.

If you have a friendship with a client, you still have to set strong boundaries with them. You communicate your expectations and bill them accordingly for the work you do. It's easy not to bill for your time if someone is a friend. You have to set the expectation that you will be billing them for all the work that you are doing for them.

angryAngryDon't Let Problems Fester

Daniel and I had a blow up when he misunderstood something that I had written in one of my blogs. He wrote me a strong email that I reacted to in kind by email. If he had read the blog or clicked on the link in the posting he would have seen I had great intentions. And the blog wasn't even about him-there was just a link on the side of the page pointing to his site.

If I could go back in time I would have waited a day or two to cool down. Then I would have written an email explaining my writing and suggested talking face-to-face or by phone. Live and learn.

things fall through cracksThings fall through cracksHire Skilled, Responsible People to Handle Your Client's Work

My problem was I was trying to do everything myself, and things were falling through the cracks. Now I tell my clients to communicate their web site changes directly to the designer and they will be billed accordingly. That way changes don't get stuck in my In Box.

Make the Hand-off Easy

If the client chooses to leave or you fire the client, make the transition as smooth as possible. Provide all the files and information they need to move forward if that is the nature of your business. Even if the break up is hostile, make a point to be civil and professional. They may never return as a client, but they may not badmouth you if things end more positively. Daniel got a new company to work on his sites, and I made the transition as smooth as possible for him. I doubt I will ever have him as a client again, but I needed to know in my heart that can make the transition easy for the next person.

smooch some hineySmooch Some HineySmooch Some Hiney

Okay, you have a client who pays well and is worth keeping. Now is the time to kiss some butt. You have to admit you did something wrong and make amends.

My client Scott didn't know some of the work we were supposed to do for him was done. But I knew. I took the risk of telling and then also told him that we would do work for him during the following month at no cost to him. It cost me $600 but it was worth keeping Scott as a client.

Handling ticked off clients is all about doing crisis management, and then deciding how far you will go to keep them as a client. You may choose to give up peacefully and let them go, or you can fight to keep them. Sometimes you have no choice. But when you have the choice and want to keep them as a client, do all you can to make things right. They may represent many more years of income.

Please contact us if you have any queries, or would like a free quotation

Continue reading
0
  618 Hits
618 Hits

What to Publish on Your Website: Content Development

Content is a king for the profitable websiteContent is King for a Profitable WebsiteMany businesses want a simple website where they tell people what their business is about, some information on the products they offer and a means of contacting them.

However, content is vital in the growth of your Internet presence. Information is your asset and all you need to produce it is the knowledge you attain over time.

For some, they simply don't know where to start. Here are some things to consider that could lead you to providing great content and a value-added website.

1. Write what you know

Knowledge is power. Post articles to your website that show that you are well informed in your industry. If you can position yourself as an expert in your industry you can boost perceived credibility of your business on the whole.

2. Entertain

Everyone likes to be entertained.

For example, if you are marketing African tours, you might publish photo galleries or post stories on the African people, travel tips, the climate, etc.


business newsBusiness News3. About Your Business

Are people interested in the current happenings in your business? Post news items on your website. Eg. "New branch in Gauteng"

4. About Your Product

What do your customers often ask you about? What are their uncertainties? If you offer a "complex" product, which requires much learning on the part of the consumer, a website is a great place to teach them! This in mind, you might not want to be too technical in your copy - tell them about the benefits, not the features.

A great way to clarify uncertainties is to publish a "Frequently Asked Questions" or a "Q&A" section.

5. Back to the Plan

Take a look at your marketing and / or business plan - what goals are you trying to achieve and how are you trying to position yourself in the market place?

6. Watch your competition

6.1. What are competitors offering through their website that you are not?

6.1.1. Determine why they publish this content, then think of ways that you can improve it and use it on your website. Don't copy - enhance.

6.2. What are you offering on your website that competitors are not

explore what you knowExplore What You KnowThis raises two questions:

6.2.1. Is the information you offer really satisfying? Does it need to be there?

6.2.2. And, if the information does give you a kind of competitive advantage, how can you capitalize on that?

7. User Behaviour

Consider your Internet market - what do they do on the Internet.

7.1. Do they like to communicate with other Internet users about your industry? Consider having a forum on your website where you can allow website visitors to do this

 

For a free quotation or more information, please do not hesitate to contact us

Continue reading
0
  514 Hits
514 Hits

When To Let Go Of Your Website Designing Ideas

let goTime To Let GoAs hard as it may be, but letting go of your website designing ideas and listening to the customer may actually be of benefit in the long run.

I know what you are saying, you’ve been in the web designing business long enough to know what works and wont doesn’t, what would my customer know? Well after approaching web design in the same manner, I’ve unfortunately had no other choice but to give in to my best laid plans and comply with the wishes of my customers.

Construction of good websites usually means that it has to be appealing to the eye, as well as being fully functioning for Search Engine benefits, but ultimately it must display professionalism for the business represented.

Complying with W3C Standards (W3C Markup Validation Service) for both HTML and CSS validation is paramount to good design and programming (but not necessary for good Google PR, I will discuss in later posts), so when designing we like to use base HTML formatting and CSS text font like Tahoma 11pt, to make neat easy to read text and nice page image layouts.

I will list some cases of where letting go has benefits for both parties involved and how in some circumstances actually resulted in little or no web traffic for the website.

architectural businessArtchitectural BusinessCase Study 1. Architectural Firm flash and font matters

Our customer wanted the use of Flash elements to display several architecture images with a nice fade between images and changes to original CSS Font used Tahoma 11pt font and replaced with Century Gothic 11pt, which is used in all their logos and architecture design work.

As most would know embedding Flash files into your website results in W3C Validation undefined source failure, thus rendering the site Invalid Markup. After explaining this, the customer felt the need to have a nice graphical flash style image far outweighed the importance of quality valid HTML Transitional Markup. To them the appearance and perception of their website to their customers was far more advantageous than complying with the W3C.

In addition they wanted the use of the Century Gothic font rather than Tahoma. By design Century Gothic has a much larger font height than Tahoma and when used increased the page height larger than when using Tahoma thus resulting in the site displaying with scroll bars when view under 1024 x 768 resolution, where previously it fitted in the whole page perfectly.

In the end the customer achieved the desired affects they wanted and ultimately it is the customer who ‘always’ knows best.

Case Study 2. Box supplier becomes boxed in

Our customer had started a new business supplying cardboard boxes for moving and packing. They wanted a

simple site with heavy graphical image elements and little or no text on the home page.

cardboard boxesCardboard BoxesExplaining to the customer the role of text based search engines results and that having no ‘readable text’ on the home page would limit their visibility, they choose design over results.

Why you may ask would a company limit their possibilities of being found on search engines? Well the question still burns with us too, but as mentioned earlier the ‘customer always knows best’ and the decision was solely theirs to make.

Their philosophy was simple, their website was purely to be used as a reference guide and not the source of extra business, as their marketing strategies would be enough to garner constant business.

To this day I still wonder why they limited their marketability and in particular their website which is always online and can be searched at all times of the day.

So in summary the best laid plans of mice and men (well in this case web designers) can be a utter waste of good management as what I have stated all along that the ‘customer always knows best’ and ultimately they are the ones paying for your service so sometimes its best to lay down your guns and concede defeat.

Contact us for a free quotation or more information

Continue reading
0
  553 Hits
553 Hits

When You Should Consider Using a Site Template or Wizard to Build Your Own Website

design and artDesign and ArtI'm a web designer letting you know when it's important not to use a web designer. I feel this is very important to discuss, because many customers spend a lot of money when a much simpler solution is available for them. HTML and other web technologies are easy to learn, but very difficult to master. There are many automated template and site wizards which can walk you through developing a simple site without any prior web design or programming knowledge. For the right customer this is a great solution to their web design needs.

The Look:

Although wizards and template machines have become increasingly sophisticated over the years, they still have a somewhat "generic" look and feel. If setup perfectly a website audience may not know specifically they are looking at a template site, although almost unavoidably they will feel uninspired by the look and at least subconsciously know they've seen a ton of websites with the same idea. The designs are usually engineered to be able to be conformed to any business so they lack any cohesion or emotional link to your specific company or individual site. There are some exceptions to this. Extremely large e-stores may have a VERY extensive library of templates even ones catered to specific professions. If the success of your website depends on an "expensive", ultra professional, or creative look then definitely rule out this possibility.


 

Time Frame limitedTime Frame LimitedTime Frame:

Templates and wizard sites are usually advertised with tag lines like build your website in 5 minutes. Regardless of the simplicity of the interface, if you're going to build a good website even with a wizard or template expect to spend hours and hours of your time on it. Without the help of a professional who can guide you through the trial and error discovery and content refinement process, expect to do a lot of research on your own. In addition if you have problems or make mistakes you won't have an ability to get instant help and tech support is painfully slow. If you have strict time schedule requirements, rule this possibility out.

Ideal Candidates:

Websites that represent industries where the website itself is not meant to be profitable (IE no e-commerce sites)

Personal home pages.

Situation where the website's goal is only to reinforce the product or service and not to provide new customers but as an information source. Industries or services were extremely good automated web solutions exist and are easily available. One example is real-estate agents, although elite agents may want a fancy website, a normal agent can find very satisfactory template website solutions that are complete with industry specific functions and features like mortgage and interest calculators and live up link with their firm's properties. In addition all the web competition has kept the price of these services VERY low.

When only the product has significance. If your setting up a website to sell a used car, and want your local ads in the paper to point there, people could care less if the graphic design looks professional. PLEASE use a template.

If you're testing an idea or concept and don't want to spend a lot of money.

out of business diy website designOut of Business DIY WebsiteWhat not to do:

Here is what I don't recommend. DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT try to build your own site by learning a WYSIWYG (What you see is what you editor like front page or Dreamweaver, unless you already know these programs well and have a lot of web experience. These programs are not intuitive and will allow you to completely mess up your layout and code.

time on your handsTime on Your HandsAlthough extremely limiting, the online wizard and template machines have a certain degree of fail safeness to them. You simply supply the information and they setup the pages for you. You can upload pictures and adjust them quickly and easily following simply directions. In a WYSIWYG editor there are many non intuitive things you have to know WELL in order to create a website that's functional. I've have A LOT of website customers come to me after practically pulling their hair out with all the problems they encountered trying to fix problems in their self created website.

I've also met very few non tech people who were successful at building a good looking website with front page or dream weaver. If you're a computer power user, that's of course a different story, but even for you, good web design is a very difficult thing to grasp. Use an online wizard, builder or template instead of a WYSIWYG editor, unless you have a LOT of time on your hands.

Contact us today for a free quotation or more information.

Continue reading
0
  706 Hits
706 Hits

Why Accessibility Is Easy

discriminationDiscriminationAnti-discrimination legislation did not happen overnight. Indeed, the process of inclusion for citizens of all demographics has been on the agenda of governments and human rights activists the world over for many years.

It’s not a new agenda, most policy makers and corporate watchdogs actively encourage the employment and inclusion of all people regardless of ethnicity, social or economic standing, religion, mental capacity or physical attributes. Some countries also enforce these policies to create a fair and socially responsible business climate. Private and public organizations likewise have long understood the importance of providing facilities for staff members and visitors with special needs, particularly in their legal place of business or operations. Not providing such amenities would likely result in litigation, and so in many cases these companies feel compelled to address any inadequacies as a high priority business agenda.

Continue reading
0
  489 Hits
489 Hits

Calendar

Wait a minute, while we are rendering the calendar

Latest Blogs

Reward Credit