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ksymmons

Initial client communication workflow

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Hey guys,

As the question says, I'd really like to learn about your initial client communication workflows. In other words, what's your process like from the moment you get a request to provide a quote for a website to the moment you actually send the quote?

My current workflow:

  1. A client fills out the contact form on my site to request a quote.
  2. I review the information provided and send them a Word document questionnaire with a list of questions. I ask for things like project scope, features needed, desired timeline, allocated budget, etc.
  3. They fill out the document and send it back to me.
  4. I review the information provided and make sure I've got everything I need.
  5. I write and send the quote to the client.
  6. Client accepts the quote.
  7. I send them a contract, get it signed and collect 50% of total payment.
  8. I gather some extra information from them, usually just by asking questions via email or by sending them another Word document questionnaire.
  9. I start building their site.

Lately, I've been thinking about changing this workflow a bit. Currently, my online contact form has three fields: name, email and message. What I'm thinking is, what if I provide a select toggle above my form so that clients can choose between a simple, general enquiries form and a larger form (with all the questions I've got in my Word document) to request a quote? This would allow me to do away with the Word document, and would make this a one-step process.

The reason why I haven't done this so far is because I'm not sure how good of an idea it is to have a long contact form with say, 10-15 questions. What's your take on this?

Another thing I'm not entirely happy with is having to send them two questionnaires (steps 2 and 8). The reason why I do this is because I don't want to overwhelm them with lots of questions at the beginning, and also because, to be honest, the questions I ask in the 2nd questionnaire do not really influence pricing, as they have more to do with the nature of their business, their goals with the new site, possible corporate colours they may have, things like that.

What do you guys think? Does my workflow seem sensible to you? Is it similar to what you do? What would you change?

Thanks, and sorry for the brick!

P.S. If some of you guys are willing to share your client questionnaires I would certainly appreciate it.

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Howdy @ksymmons,

This is an interesting topic, and one not easily answered as there are many individual preferences.

But my generalized workflow has been:

  • Initial client contact.
  • Needs Analysis - I have only stood face to face with a client and their support team (marketing, documentation, training, IT, SMEs, etc.) and never used email to discuss functionality, unless it is a simple question.
  • Functional Requirements Specification - Which also includes the timeline (milestones), payment options, and my NDA. They return a signed copy along with a check, or they throw the thing away.
  • Upon the check clearing, I begin the project.
  • I submit for review (in person if required) at each milestone, and collect another check upon sign-off. Rinse and repeat.
  • The product is delivered upon clearance of final payment.

Now, as with most any project, there will always be feature creep that was not disclosed during the NA phase. I present an addendum to the original spec that outlines the requirements, timeline, and costs of this new mini-project.

Like I said, it's mostly personal preferences. However, there are certain expectations when dealing with large clients. Face to face meetings, for example. I don't know of any company that will hand over a large check without first meeting you. The Needs Analysis phase can last from a couple of hours to a number of days, and even involve travel to other locations. The client pays for my expenses,  and I spend as much time with them as necessary for us both to be satisfied. Nothing is worse than having to go back to the client and ask a question that should have been covered initially.

Hope all this helps.

Regarding your long questionnaire question, I never expect a client (however small) to spend time completing an online form unless that online form is part of the project.

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Hey @rick,

Thank you for your input. I mostly deal with small business owners with limited time and resources. I tend to work on small-scale projects. Most of my clients come to me via word of mouth, so there's an element of trust there. In general, they're happy to communicate with me over email and phone calls.

If the client is local, I usually meet them at some point during the initial stage. If the client isn't local, I generally do not meet them face to face, as most of them are not willing to pay for my travel expenses. In such cases, I might interact with them via Skype or something similar if they request it.

Quote

Regarding your long questionnaire question, I never expect a client (however small) to spend time completing an online form unless that online form is part of the project.

This is what's kept me from doing away with my Word questionnaire. I just fear it might actually backfire and make me lose clients.

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