What's the Point of Being Nice?

Over the past few months we've been doing a lot of thinking about process at BLISS. No wait, come back please! Don't worry, no charts or flow diagrams, I promise.

In particular I've been looking long and hard at our we communicate between each other, and with clients. And one of the things I've realised is that many, if not most, of the delays, mistakes and misunderstandings throughout the course of a project are caused by miscommunication.

Yeah sounds obvious, right?

It's not that we're rubbish at talking. But we just skip ahead a little sometimes, when we really need to slow down and make sure everyone's on the same page from the start.

Internally this isn't so much of a problem. We believe in an environment of holistic creativity (that's a fancy way of saying everyone's involved) and no departments or hierarchies. Project teams are fully involved from the start, so everyone contributes and is aware of the full scope of the job. That's pretty ace, and fairly common practice in agencies nowadays.

But incorporating the client into that process is a little tricky. They're busy, they've got their own stuff going on. They don't want to hear about sprint reviews and feedback loops and product backlogs. They just want you to crack on and build them an awesome website, right?

Yeah. As if.

Helping clients to understand what to expect throughout the course of a project is essential. And the sooner you get that foundation in place, the smoother the ride's going to be. They don't need to necessarily understand how you layer your Photoshop files or what shade of pink you use for syntax highlighting (you know what I'm talking about), but they do need to be an integrated member of the project team.

Helping to educate clients on how we work should be considered part of our job.

Clients need to know exactly what you plan to deliver, when to expect it, and in what format. It's nice for them to know who's on the project team and their individual responsibilities. The account manager, producer, planner or product owner (depending on your setup) may be the common point of contact, but it's really handy when the client feels they can direct a technical question straight to a dev. Likewise, they need to understand what is required of them, when it's required, and how we as the experts can help them to provide it.

It's also important that you know who you're dealing with. Who are the key decisions makers? Make sure they're on board from the start so you can avoid that painful situation when the boss pokes their nose in two days before launch with a catalogue of revisions.

Yeah we've all been there, haven't we?

The key is to stimulate this collaborative relationship by making the client want to get involved. It's their baby as much as yours. Get excited, be open and pleasant and positive. Because let's face it, who wants to work with an asshole?

We've always tried to be friendly at BLISS. Well, that's a lie. We don't exactly have to try. But it is important that we're aware of it, especially when the going gets tough, especially in that high pressure crunch time that typically looms before a launch. Because it's more important then than ever.

Being nice, patient and happy is a concept so simple yet so easily overlooked. And it helps everyone feel better, it helps when communicating ideas, it helps to get everyone more excited and positive about projects, to help increase trust, waste less time, and ultimately do better work.

So, cheer up you miserable b@$£%*!s.