Yet Again Why Communication is Key

Business / Graphic Design

Yet Again Why Communication is Key

About a week ago I received a frantic email from a client. The order of 10,000 business cards they needed for Monday was printed with a serious typo. It was Thursday. Oh, and I was boarding a flight to leave town for a week. Without my computer or access to the native files.


I spent the next half hour calling the client, checking proofs from my phone and trying my best to get a hold of someone who could get me out of this bind. In that time, I also became aware of two other projects needed for that Monday that were also wrong.

Double crap.

In the end I was able to get what files I had to a dear friend and fellow designer, put her in touch with the client and then manage the project as best I could from three time zones away. Working with the printer, we were able to get the client what they needed, albeit a few days late. The client was wonderfully understanding and, I’m very happy to say, is still a client.

This begs the question: how did this happen? I could blame it on the fact that they have a new point person managing the projects. Or that many times there’s a huge delay in communications, or about a half dozen other things. But the real problem is that I never communicated what I needed from them.

Typically, once I get the okay from someone there, I run the job or turn over files. However, this time around with so many small parts to the campaign, I never clarified the proofing process with the client. I ASSUMED that everything had been proofread and verified by them when it hadn’t. I have a really good working relationship with them and the overhead of maintaining and organizing sign off sheets seemed unnecessary. Without them, however, I didn’t communicate the “finality” of a reply from them that read “Perfect, Thanks!” To me that meant, “Make it so! Run the job!” When to them it very well could have been a verification of receipt.

It’s important to maintain a certain level of professionalism even when you think it’s completely unwarranted (and maybe even a bit awkward.) While it may seem like a needless paperwork formality, in the end a sign-off gives the client confidence in you and your business and gives you a way to make sure everything’s getting done right.


Photo by DailyPic. CC BY-NC-ND


  1. Jackie Goldstein says:

    Thanks Justin. We all know that crisis management comes with the territory. How you choose to respond can be a real opportunity for brand building and bonding with your client… as long as you see it through to success.

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