5 Killer Ways to Make Your Clients Part of Your Team

Collaborating with clients

“Collaborate with your clients”. Yes, we’ve heard it a million times before, but how many of us actually do it? How much you collaborate with your clients actually says a lot about your team spirit, dedication and trustworthiness, and does much more than make the client happy. It can be instrumental at both retaining the client for future work, and receiving a top-notch testimonial when you’re done.

Let’s take a look at 5 killer ways to make the client feel like a valued member of the team, to the benefit of you both.

1. Bring Clients into the Conversation

Create a safe space where clients, designers and developers can talk about the project productively (because email is so 2010!). Allowing the client see how efficient, energetic and awesome your team is (first-hand) will certainly impress them, and also emphasise the fact that your team values the client's opinion. Don’t think of client collaboration as a burden, think of it as an investment in your future relationship with them.

Slack is a terrific way to connect your team with your clients. Slack is a critically-acclaimed messaging app for teams; in fact, you can integrate Slack with Sympli to bring up your design’s screens directly into the context of the conversation, making deep discussion and bouts of feedback much easier to accomplish.

2. Involve Clients in the Design Process

Involving the client in the design process goes way beyond communicating ideas; when the client understands why something is done a certain way, or why their suggestion wouldn’t be feasible in the real world, they’ll sympathise and understand your explanation a lot more. A lack of technical understanding is what often makes client collaboration so daunting. Patience, collaboration and communication are key here — by going over the technical details with the client (without too much jargon!) you’ll find the client will tend to agree with you more.

3. Exchange Feedback with Your Clients

Exchanging feedback — this further elaborates on the fact that teams who value their client's opinions are happier and more efficient (this isn’t just a courtesy, your clients usually know more about the users that you’re designing for than you do — listen to them!). Exchanging feedback with your clients and your teammates can make the end result much, much better.

Sympli is a brilliant way to accomplish this. By dropping a “pin” on a specific region of an app screen (using inspect mode — see below), you can create a comment thread centered around a specific design element, to discuss your feedback/note/question in more detail.

Commenting with Sympli

4. Ask Clients to Test on Their Device

Naturally, you’ll want to test your designs in real devices — mobile layouts are designed to by used by thumbs after all, not mice. Showing the client how to do this also not only helps them offer feedback, but they’ll simply love that they can play around with the app before it’s even coded — there’s nothing wrong with wow’ing the clients from time to time, and this is a pretty cool way to do it!

5. Include the Client in Retro Meetings

Retrospective meetings are meetings that happen after every design sprint — this is where your team discusses the latest sprint, what happened in the current iteration, and what could be improved upon in the next iteration. Including your client in these “retro” meetings allows them to weigh-in on not only the design at hand, but also how they’re finding client-designer-developer collaboration. It also wonderfully illustrates your team's desire to improve their workflow.

6. Give the Client Feedback

“Wait, what? Give the client feedback?”

Seriously, tell the client that they’re awesome (or tell them why they’re a terrible client if they’re not — politely of course!). One of the main reasons why contracted teams underperform or show a lack of enthusiasm is because of an underlying resentment towards the client; this can be a result of too many requests, delayed responses, becoming unresponsive making one-sided decisions without consulting the team, not paying invoices on time (I could go on and on, really!).

You have to be open about these things, otherwise, resentment and frustration builds up and that really doesn’t help anybody. A breakdown of communication can be quite costly when you consider the fact that time = money. Plus, it’s better when both sides are working in sync as it significantly boosts job satisfaction!

Conclusion: Collaborate with Clients!

Leaving the client in the dark is the quickest way to set their emotions on edge. It’ll constantly make them wonder how much effort you’re putting into the work, if you’re working to schedule, and if the value of your work matches the amount they’re paying you. Believe me, there are literally endless reasons to collaborate with your clients, it’s almost silly not to!