Comments on Client Education and Post-Launch Success

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  1. “The client, however, was generally confused by the system we’d built. They didn’t quite know how to explain it to their customers.”

    Sort of have to wonder what’s missing from this story. The system you describe doesn’t sound very complicated. Were the clients and their customers really just very stupid, or was the system you created really much more complicated than simply buying pdfs online? What, exactly, confused them, and why was it necessary to have that thing? I mean, this couldn’t have been a system/UI design fail, could it?

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  2. Hi Drew,

    Thank you for your post. As an aspiring copywriter for a digital advertising agency, your post definitely resonated with me on a professional level. Honestly, I think it is crazy that so many firms such as yours did not offer post-contract support for their clients until recently. Although we are in the digital business, customer service is just as important in our field as it is in any for company growth and success. Likewise, I agree with your point that by providing technical and educational support for clients, the firm’s employees get more out of their jobs. I am sure that even website developers like to leave their computer desks from time to time to see that their product is actually making a difference out in the physical world. From the client side of things, I can only imagine how helpful training and educational material of a new product can be and how this service stands out amongst competitors in the marketplace. Furthermore, services like these from digital agencies will keep clients coming back, which will not only increase profits but raise positive WOM among the digital community. My favorite part about your article was the statement that, “Teaching your client to use your product is your responsibility as a digital business.” I could not agree more, and I have to believe that firms in the virtual space will not be able to compete for long if they do not incorporate this mindset into their business model.

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  3. “So, they were worried that people would be able to somehow steal or share the content with the new system.”

    Well, that’s basically true, isn’t it? Or have you got magical perfect security?

    On the other side, we recently received a proposal from a developer that assured us that disabling right-click would prevent stealing data. So there’s that.

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  4. Great article, Drew. Thanks!

    One small comment. The word “hopefully” used in the #section4 heading “This never ends (hopefully)” is incorrect. It could be “one hopes,” or “we hope.”

    Sorry to nitpick.

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  5. Completely agree with Drew. It happened to me a lots of time. Now I have to remove some of my portfolio as they are not working as expected or client just destroyed them. :(

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  6. The fact is that the client hires us for a reason—to fill some kind of digital need that they do not have the expertise or the resources to do themselves. The point that you make is a beautiful one. The relationship should extend beyond just shipping a project.

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  7. “Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.”
    George Washington Carver

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  8. This article touches on a little addressed area of creative projects that actually can have a huge impact on both parties.

    I really like this chunk:

    “The extra effort required for client education is worth it. By giving our clients the tools, knowledge, and passion they need to be successful with what we’ve built for them, we help them improve their business.

    Anything that drives their success ultimately drives ours. “

    I think that drives it home. If you’re making an app, website, or other type of software for a client and then just release them into it they’re going to either be confused bumbling bears or excited, clawing and clumsy kittens. There needs to be an education process, whether just on-boarding or slightly continuous, to help bring our clients along for the journey. It not only helps them understand the product you’ve created for them, but also helps reinforce the value we bring to the table, which they will hopefully remember next time.

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  9. Of course Drew, I am agree with you. Many clients are not familiar with usability of the developed product. Being in a software niche, it’s my personal experience that when you deliver a great resource, clients keep them go unusual and they do nothing innovative and monetize for the money invested. I am John Pereless and I own a software company http://www.Pereless.net Thanks

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  10. Wow Drew. Your candor is helpful and refreshing. Kudos.

    That said, and pardon my directness, the transition from a design + dev agency to “we do strategy” in the context of the friction and bumps mentioned feels - again pardon me - forced and awkward. My gut reaction is, “Train clients? What about plenty of in-house training and/or hiring?” and “How come this didn’t happen sooner?”

    Perhaps Part 2 (of this article) can discuss that, as well as other changes in your “the process is the product” and/or “the team is the product”?

    Again, thanks. Open discussion such as this makes us all better, stronger and more aware.

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  11. Lots of great points here. A read just as important for clients. Ultimately up to us to up sale that service but you won’t win them all. But I firmly believe when you gain the trust of a client to continue paying for education and web development in it’s many forms you’ll have a successful site no matter the industry.
    Enjoyed this thank you.

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  12. I think it’s worth considering that the original problem wasn’t just training, but was overall a lack of customer engagement. From your description, they clearly weren’t comfortable that the application functioned properly or how it benefited them. I wonder if simply engaging the customer in testing would have had the same positive results you’re seeing from training? I agree with you that training is important and a support model is essential, but engagement could be built before you even get to those points. Including the client in UAT or even development sprint demos (if you’re doing agile), really helps a customer engage in a product and understand how/why it works.

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  13. Thank you for the great article Drew. Like Richelle, I also think it is unreasonable that a lot of companies did not provide clients the post-contract support. As we all know, we normally have warranties on the products we purchased such as TVs and cars. From a customer’s point of view, I am expecting to have the post-contract support or the option to purchase the support service in the digital business. However, I am surprised that in reality only a few reputable firms such as yours in the industry that offer and realize the importance of the post-contract support.

    From reading your post, I think you should probably call your clients partners. The business and model you described above is actually an excellent way to turn the pure business relationship into partnership. Partnership is very different from business relationship. Business relationship can be solely based on money, where customers pay for our products or services and we deliver them. In contrast, partnership moves one step further. Partnership creates a win-win solution by turning clients into partners. In your case, for example, I totally agree that the extra effort your team invested in educating your business partners is definitely worth it. You actually explained this very well in your conclusion that “anything that drives their success ultimately drives ours. When the tools we build work well for our clients, they return to us for more work.” I also suspect that companies in any business or industry can be successful without incorporating this mindset into their business concept and model.

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  14. Sorry, commenting is closed on this article.