What consumers should expect from Remote Design Professionals – Part 3
Many questions come to mind when a potential consumer considers remote design (outsourcing) as an option for their business. The most common would be “How can it work?” Numerous concerns arise regarding quality, time management & integrity. Some have tried it & failed, while others shy away due to the misrepresentation from colleagues. Like any industry, success and failure are determined by satisfied clients.
Below are some expectations for consumers should have for remote design (outsourcing):
The implementation process must be a smooth, planned out process. Design professionals that have credibility have been through this process numerous times and have it down to a science. This is another opportunity to recognize a “fly-by-night”.
What is the incentive for the consumer to use the design professional? Is it price or is it value? Is it timeliness or accuracy? The companies that provide the proper incentives make it easier for the consumer to make purchases. Repeat business from steady clients should provide some type of incentive that is valuable to the consumer.
- Industry Associations/Memberships
A true design professional will have a membership in their field of expertise, perhaps even multiple memberships across various associations. Not only does this reflect professionalism, it also allows the opportunity for the design professional’s colleagues/peers to be contacted by a potential client for credibility verification. Consumers that overlook this will regret it.
- Industry Experience
This sounds like a “no-brainer” right? Well it’s not! Consumers that buy on price only will get exactly what they pay for. While the design professional’s company may appear to have qualified individuals at the forefront, what about the technical folks that actually do the work? Are they just as qualified? Sometimes it helps to ask the painful questions BEFORE an issue arises. There are far too many companies out there with a qualified “lead man”, without experienced technicians. These types have “muddied the waters”, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of those who have tried to utilize their service. Our mistakes are perhaps our greatest teacher, but that does not mean that you are comparing apples to apples. Experience will set companies apart.
What influence does the design professional have? Are they sharing knowledge, or keeping it all to themselves? Are they truly out to genuinely help their industry? You can tell fairly rapidly who actually knows their industry by how much information they are willing to give away, without any expectation. Influence becomes a key factor when researching, as influence equals respect.
It seems this is a lost art these days. Design professionals without integrity will flee at the first sign of trouble, leaving the consumer holding the bag. Integrity should be the foundation of any viable company. A company with integrity will qualify itself without being asked. Integrity is a two way street. A company with integrity will not do business with another company that lacks it, no matter what the price tag is!
This is a huge factor these days. With telemarketing mostly in other countries, who is to say that the design professional isn’t also? Do they speak the same language? Are they in the same time zone? Can they accurately comprehend the information sent to them? Don’t take this for granted. Know what to expect up front.
- Job Description
Do you know exactly what you will get ahead of time? Is there a descriptive, detailed list? The consumer in a retail store knows exactly what they are purchasing. Any job that someone applies for, will have a job description, outlining specifics. Why should utilizing a design professional be any different?
- Key Contact(s)
Who will be handling the major roles? Accounting, Administration, IT, Management, Technical, etc.? Will you have the access needed to resolve any conflicts before they become an issue? A consumer should not have a single contact, they should have a list. Beware of the “solo” contact. It may just be a “solo” operation.
- Level of Service
Some design professionals are one-dimensional, meaning they do it “their way”. They approach adaptability as a selling feature, rather than a requirement. The level of service should be determined by the client purchasing services, with the design professional accommodating any/all requests. Therefore, the level of service should closely resemble that of the consumer’s employees. Do not be fooled into thinking otherwise.
Who assumes it, if something goes wrong? Does the design professional have liability insurance? If the answer is no, yet the consumer does business with the design professional anyway, the consumer must be prepared to assume all liability. Any business that is concerned with longevity will have insurance.
When you go to the library, you can check out books, videos, etc. There is an abundance of ways to acquire the knowledge you are seeking. Does your design professional have a library for the consumer? Are there drawing details, that descriptive and explicit? If not the consumer should question how anything is done correctly.
Is this a company that was active last year and will they be next year? How has the recession affected them? And the million dollar question: Are they getting repeat business? Longevity is contingent upon client satisfaction. Take a look at a design professional’s track record with consumers if you want to measure longevity. The sooner you can identify a “short-timer”, the better.
Stay tuned for Part 4…