Stop Thinking Your Clients and Customers are Dumb

Posted by Darryl Schmidt on July 10, 2021 at 7:39 pm
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No One Knows Everything (not even your clients), and That’s Ok.

As web designers and developers, great customer service is what we should all be striving for. It’s important to develop relationships with your clients and create an atmosphere of mutual respect. Be professional and treat them like a professional.

I’m an old nerd.

My first computer had 16KB of RAM. Not 16GB or 16MB, 16KB. It was a TRS-80 Model I and I bought it with the money I made from my paper routes. The available software for that computer was very sparse and most of the time, also very expensive for a paper boy. If I wanted my computer to do something, I had to write the program myself. I would type the program into the computer and save it on a cassette tape.

When computers started to gain popularity and “normal” people started buying them, I was positioned to be someone that could help these normal people. Not only had I been working with computers for years, but my brain just worked that way. I started working in a local computer shop that sold computers, components, and we serviced what we sold. I was dealing with many customers on a daily basis that had never worked with a computer before but wanted to get one for their family.

Clients Help the Head Swell

Many times I would meet clients or customers that would be amazed at my expansive knowledge of computer components, how they worked, and what someone would need for their home. I would discuss with them who would be using their new computer and what they wanted to do with it. I’d then match them up with something in their price range that would do what they needed. When you’re working in sales and you truly believe in what you’re doing because you’re helping people buy something that will make their life better, that’s a good job.

After a while I started to notice how some people would treat my workmates and myself. Some people would be in awe and comment about how we must be so incredibly smart to have all of this knowledge that they didn’t. When most of the people that you know and many people that you don’t know are constantly telling you how smart you are, it’s easy to let your ego get out of hand.

To be fair though, none of my workmates were dummies because nerds really did tend to be pretty smart. Having people you don’t even know tell you that you’re smart reinforces something that you already know about yourself. That knowledge that you have to be able to do your job seems more important and you feel that it sets you apart from the normals.

I’m Not as Think as you Dumb I am

One day I did something dumb. I don’t even remember what it was because as I stated above, I’m old, and it was a long time ago. I can clearly remember though that my self image of someone that’s incredibly bright started to crack. I started to realize that my workmates and I, while being a pretty smart bunch, weren’t nearly as smart as we all thought we were. Those doctors, mechanics, lawyers, judges, etc that we had all written off as dumb, might not be. Even if they didn’t know how many memory slots were on the motherboard they owned, or how to manually configure a soundcard, they weren’t dumb.

I wasn’t as smart as I had come to believe, and people that I thought were dumb really weren’t. Up was down, down was up, cat and dogs were living together.

Buy WHY Don’t They Know?

People don’t care about all the little details for something that they think of as a tool to complete a task. Just like you might not know how to rebuild the automatic transmission on your car, they just want to be able to use their computer. Once you understand that the knowledge that you have to do your job is just like the knowledge that a mechanic has, you start to realize that not knowing something is ok.

Cool Story Bro, What Does This have to do With Web Design or the WordPress?

Over the years, I’ve been in many different groups for web designers and developers on many different platforms and there’s often people posting about dumb clients. Designers and developers are often amazed at how a client is completely unable to manage simple website related tasks. They go on about how they told the client something a week ago, something that was also included in the manual, and they still don’t get it. They must be dumb.

That client that started something from scratch and built it into a successful business that makes enough money to afford a custom website is not dumb. Your “dumb” client could be an expert in several fields that pertain to their business but have nothing to do with web design. It could be that they spend their day immersed in their work that’s so far removed from what you do that sometimes it’s hard to mentally switch gears into “website mode”.

Understanding that sometimes people don’t know things because they don’t care is very important. It’s your job to ensure that clients aren’t force fed information that doesn’t serve the purpose of the website. The website that you create for them should serve a purpose, which is to improve their business in some way. If there’s details that they don’t need to know, don’t bother them. You need to be able to determine what’s actually important to them and ensure that it’s explained in a way that they understand.

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