Not All Clients Are Tech Savvy

[A version of this article was originally posted on theappleofmyi].

Spending time with friends and family, there can be a sudden realisation that you are not like them.

What do you mean you don’t know what twitter is?

You DON’T use a feed reader?!

Spending time online, or working with fellow web-orientated people, means that you can become very blase in terms of technology.

Most people don’t use twitter. Most people don’t blog. Most people don’t have mulitple websites, and most people think that twitter is something Bill Oddie does.

This scenario is exactly the same with most clients. But, we need to be honest – that is why they are employing us in the first place! However, it is easy to assume that they are up to speed on technology and web applications that we take for granted.

Working with clients in 2009

Something we are very concious of, having started working with a new client recently is ways of working, and using web applications with them. We’ve come up with a few guidelines for helping the working relationship start smoothly, and improve over time: (this should help other web workers / consultants and also help clients)

  1. Important! – Assume nothing – they are often paying me to help them with their online activities, including social media, and possibly business practices like contact management systems
  2. Understand what level they are at, from an online virgin to a web app ninja. You should consider sending out some simple and quick online surveys to ascertain where they are on the scale
  3. Ask them how they currently work with providers and also internally
  4. Gently introduce them to any new forms of working, and make sure you point out that this is not a deal breaker / compulsory
  5. Show the BENEFITS to them, not just the features – talk about time saving, clarity of communication and ease of access for example if explaining about Basecamp
  6. Offer to provide a little training
  7. Be patient!
  8. If you don’t get immediate buy in, leave it and perhaps try again a little bit further into the project
  9. If it is going to really hamper your working style, then consider telling the client in a friendly manner with proper reasoning
  10. Don’t be afraid to listen to their point of view, as you could potentially learn something from them!

The only thing you need be completely firm about is with proposals and contracts. If a client is not happy signing something or giving written approval, this is something to take seriously, and you could be opening yourself up to risk. Just be tactful and always consider the option of walking away.

If you have any thoughts about this or anything you recommend, then please get typing in the comments!

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