Carey and Jen recently wrote an article for Fast Company on how Substantial fosters diplomacy with clients to develop better products. You should read the full piece, but here are just the pro tips:
4 Tips for Building Trust with Clients Today
1. Listen first. Set aside your assumptions and your inner naysayer. Understand their product narrative and your questions will be more provocative and considerate. Empathize: Their position and goals matters. Take advantage of their strengths and factor in their weaknesses. And be honest about your own biases.
2. Fight the power imbalance. The agency/client model is inherently out of balance. Assume equality—that ensures you take them seriously while still giving you the room to be honest with them.
3. Share responsibility. Involve them in the process and trust them to complete tasks, not just make decisions. Take their contribution seriously, even if they didn’t approach it as you would have or the outcome is not what you hoped.
4. Make them the hero. Our job is to create a great product—but not at the sacrifice of our clients. If they are in a better position than when you started, you have not only succeeded, you likely have a repeat client.