Why don’t we agree with our customers?

Certainly you know such stories or have heard similar ones before:

You have an idea. New business / Product/ Rebranding / Functionality. You look for an agency that will execute this idea for you. One, two or three filled briefs. You become entangled in a loop of emails, price estimates, meetings and schedules. Sometimes this lasts longer (and you feel that you are running out of time), sometimes it lasts a bit less (but did they really understood your problem?).

Finally, you’ve got a response! There is a plan and an offer. And this is where further challenges occur: time, budget, further negotiations, reducing the scope of the project, removing some features (and trying to decide what to choose — all of them create a consistent whole).

After some time, you’ve got this. It seems that you were able to meet halfway but you feel bigger and bigger uncertainty whether the final product will still be THIS PRODUCT and whether it will be successful, while the agency is concerned about how to deliver the project with limited resources.

And this is really when the actual story begins…

Despite the fact that its process varies (and can come with numerous adventures), endings are usually similar. It happens that you receive a great project but equally as often, you feel that something is off in the end; like this is not THE product you expected, it doesn’t correspond to the specification, it doesn’t work, or even worse: after many weeks it turns out that you are the only user of your product.

Your idea was executed but neither you nor the contractor feel satisfied. What about the success you all anticipated…

This is why we… do not read briefs or specifications.

Or, to put it differently: we know that a brief or specification is usually a collection of assumptions and hypotheses, instead of verified ideas or information.

We do not want to base our cooperation with customers on assumptions.

This is why, when we start a cooperation, we ask you whether you have talked to your (potential) users, what the results of these talks were, if you have tested your ideas and, most of all: what your problem or need is, as this is never creation of a new, better website.

It often happens that customers approach us with a need, e.g. they tell us they are looking for a website. In such a case, we analyse together the aspects behind that need: is it a matter of low sales, low traffic on the site, or perhaps excessive distribution of brands. Usually, it turns out that a page is not the source of a problem — it lies somewhere completely different. After identifying the source of the problem, you can propose activities to resolve it, e.g. rebranding, selecting the main brand, organising a promotional campaign that will bring traffic onto a website or targeting communication to an appropriate target group.
Beata Mosór-Szyszka , Co-owner & Strategist, Project: People

So when do we disagree for the first time?

Do you remember the story from the beginning of this post?

In most cases, it starts in a similar way and in the end, we also join it. People who have an idea or a vision contact us. Such ideas or visions are written down to some extent or even include details. They can relate to a new product, strategy of communication or rebranding. They want to tell us about their idea. And this is when we disagree for the first time. We do not want to begin our conversation talking about solutions.

So how do we do it?

Let us get back to the story.

So there is THE IDEA and you are looking for people who will help you execute it. You talk, negotiate, respond to messages and prepare briefs. Initially, it seems similar in all cases.

Nevertheless, at some point, one of the teams does not send you an offer but asks questions regarding your idea, to which you have no response. What problem do you want to solve and for what group of people? How do you plan to reach your customers? How do you know for certain that they have a problem like that? Will they want to pay for a solution? What is their current solution? What is important for them?

You think why they do not ask about your idea for a new logo and what the features of your project should be — this is why you have submitted your email! The questions were good and perhaps you do not know the answer to some of them?

This is when you receive another message — they do not want to give you a price for work on your idea! They believe that there are many things that you still do not know so it is not worth investing your time or money into them. It would be great to think about a concept and action plan together as this would allow to verify your idea faster and easier.

Sounds interesting. There is a point in this activity and it is worth giving it a try. Perhaps you have forgotten about something? Maybe your business idea can be developed in an interesting way? Or you do not need a comprehensive website or an advanced marketing strategy at the beginning?

You agree, arrange details and attend a workshop…

What does such a workshop provide and why should it take place before evaluating your project?

The workshop aims at:

  • approaching an idea with a bigger perspective — placing it in a business context, thinking about the target group and its problems, are the group members willing to resolve it and pay for a solution and so on. (this is also a stage when the biggest value is composed by the fact that we do not agree with our customers and we can compare various ideas),
  • checking which parts of the plan are only risky assumptions, which require checking and how this can be done,
  • defining the MVP (Minimum Viable Product), i.e. what is the key product,
  • planning further steps and activities.

During such a workshop it often turns out, that a customer’s problem is not solved by creating an advanced solution, new website / brand / set of features, but instead the goal can be achieved in a different method. And we reach such methods during work together.

I contacted Project: People coincidently and regarding a completely different matter: I asked for help in finding an employee who will take care of PR and marketing. The subject of the conversation changed quickly — Beata presented numerous ideas regarding what can be improved in the service itself (design, UX), as well as in the PR process. In the end, we agreed upon full (and very successful!) redesign of the service and taking part in the “pączkowanie” (literal translation: donutting) campaign together. We are very happy with the result — in terms of many aspects, the campaign was as successful as our best campaigns that we completed ourselves. In some areas (social media, image effect), the results were better than all of our previous campaigns. The experience we gained during this project is also important — we have learned a few methods and tools that we have not used before (infographics, large activity on Facebook, etc.).
Mateusz Mucha, founder of Omni Calculator

Find out more about the #pączkowanie campaign in Beata’s article.

So what happens now?

After working on this idea together, we prepare our action plan and a cooperation proposal.

  • We know what we need to find out,
  • We know how to do that,

We can plan what we need to achieve that. This is when we prepare a price quotation covering only the required activities, which have to provide a particular value in a project of our customer and help users in solving their problem.

After all, the goal is not to just carry out the project but to resolve a problem of our users to develop their business.

This is why sometimes we do not agree with our customers.

Joanna Ostafin, Head of design & Co-founder at Project: People | Lean UX lover ❤

Project: People (www.projectpeople.pl) is a lean strategy agency. We don’t have an offer. We are working on problems and needs our customers have.