Customer Service is KING

customer service is king, chadwagnerdesign.com blogIt amazes me whenever I receive great customer service these days. I think the reason for that is we’ve become so use to crappy customer service that we just expect it wherever we go. In my neighborhood it doesn’t get worse than fast-food restaurants. I have yet to be greeted at the drive through with a “Hello” or “Thank you for choosing (fill in the blank) today, can I take your order!”. Oh how I wish we had a Chick-Fil-A closer to the house. I happen to think they have one of the best customer experiences around.

If it’s true that to be successful you only have to be 10% better than your competitors then I say you can do just that by simply treating your customers like Stars. Every current and future customer needs to feel that they are “the one” every time they interact with you.

Below, I have put some of my thoughts on WHAT MAKES GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE. What are yours?

  • Treat others like you wish to be treated. It’s the golden rule that applies in all situations.
  • Treat People with Courtesy. Demonstrate not only your commitment to customer satisfaction but your dedication to courtesy.
  • Focus on how to fix the problem, not who’s wrong or right.
  • When in doubt over communicate. You must communicate your plan for addressing a problem and make sure the customer understands what’s going to happen and when.
  • Always Provide What You Promise. It’s essential that you earn your customers’ trust. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
  • Always offer more than is expected.
  • Smile. Even if a person can’t see your face they can still hear that you’re smiling.
  • Word-of-mouth recommendations will bring you more business. Happy customers are the best and most effective way to find new customers.

Eat More Chicken!

Attitude and Actions

chadwagnerdesign.com blog, Attitude and ActionsEvery morning I’m greeted with a Daily Mentoring email from Darren Hardy, publisher of Success magazine. It’s a cool, free, daily nugget of advice that focuses on business, life, and things in between. A recent message hit me straight between the eyes. I find my self guilty of trying to control things out of my control quite often. Truthfully, when I just focus on me and my actions I’m a happier person. Some may find that the message below is just another way to say “ignorance is bliss”, and it may be. For me, it just makes perfect sense and when practiced, makes me a better person to be around.

Here’s a summary of the Darren Daily Email message …

You can only control 2 things in life: your attitude and your actions.

Everyday we think we can control everything. Things like the weather, our boss, our kids, our spouse, our results, etc.

The reality is the only things we can control are our attitude and our actions. Everything else is going to happen as it happens.

Give up trying to control the world. Just focus on controlling you.

I would encourage you to subscribe to DarrenDaily. I find it’s quick messages very powerful.

Wait a minute, I don’t even have a job!

Wait a minute, I don’t even have a job! Chad Wagner Design BlogOver the past 2 years I have found myself being addicted to Podcasts. Yesterday I was enjoying my favorite music based show called The Double Stop. The guest, Chris Collier, was talking about how he has been fortunate enough to land all of these incredible opportunities in his relatively young career as a recording engineer. How he expressed his great fortune hit home and will stick with me till the day I die.

While describing his early career recording and engineering local bands Chris said this

“It was such a successful local gig for me that I didn’t have to hold down a job because it was paying for me to live. I didn’t even realize it until at one point I was like WOW, I don’t even have a job. What’s going on here?”

From the buzz created by Chris’s local work, word spread past his city limits and now he works with national recording acts. All because every project he took on he concentrated at the task at hand and did it to the best of his ability. So did Chris have a job? I guess that depends on your definition of a “job”.

As it has been written by many, passion alone will not produce profits. You really need all three of these components:

1) Skills. It seems like most people place their emphasis on this ingredient but it’s only one part of the equation (I’m guilty). Just because you are good at doing something, doesn’t mean you should be doing it. Again, it’s only part one of three.

2) Attitude. You need to make sure the career or business you pursue truly fits your personality. Unfortunately, I’ve never met Chris Collier but I would bet based on the podcast interview that the would be miserable in an office setting. He would probably just be frustrated and never would be faced with the opportunities he is currently enjoying.

3) Passions. Practicing in something you love to do will make you happier, more fulfilled and experience more success than if you are doing something you hate. Ask Chris Collier if you get a chance.

No matter if you record and write music, help fortune 500 companies with their branding needs, or work for a non-profit organization. Chris’s journey is universal and I thank him and Brian Sword at The Double Stop for sharing it.

Rock On.

The Power of We

The Power of We, Chad Wagner Design BlogOver the holidays a friend sent me a video link of Jon Bon Jovi accepting the Marian Anderson Award. Though the video quality is not the best I really found the speech very inspiring and thought I would share it with you.

The Marian Anderson Award celebrates critically acclaimed artists and individuals who have used their talents for personal artistic expression and whose body of work has contributed to our society in a singular manner. It is named in memory of the legendary singer and distinguished Philadelphian, Marian Anderson. Previous honorees include Harry Belafonte, Gregory Peck, Dame Elizabeth Taylor, Quincy Jones, Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, Sidney Poitier, Richard Gere, Maya Angelou and Norman Lear, James Earl Jones, and Berry Gordy.

Below are a couple of remarks from his Jon’s speech:

“I am deeply humbled to be here tonight to accept this award. I do so fully aware of the rich and powerful legacy of this honor and the many iconic figures who have stood here before me. Each of the recipients of the Marian Anderson Award made great contributions to the arts, of course – but they used their GIFTS to seek change in our society and culture. Marian Anderson, Dr. Maya Angelou, Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier – these great men and women were all blessed with tremendous artistic gifts and were all role models in the truest sense of the word. Although they were recognized for their gifts we celebrate them for their actions.”

“We truly could not have known the lives we would touch or the impact it would have. It is the shared belief in the basic dignity of the human soul and HOW with a little hope and opportunity people from all walks of life have the potential to ASPIRE to greatness and along the way INSPIRE others.”

Whether you like his music or believe in his politics, I think you’ll find he’s definitely making the world a better place.

Hiring A Graphic Designer

How To Hire A Graphic Designer, chadwagnerdesign.comSo you know WHY to hire a graphic designer and now you want to know HOW to hire a graphic designer. Below I outline some things to look for looking for a graphic designer.

PORTFOLIO
This is probably the most important thing to measure a designer’s skills by. Do you like their work? Do the designer’s pieces communicate the main message effectively? Is the work outdated, cutting edge, too cutting edge for your company, etc.? As with most creative matters, it’s very subjective. Since your business will need (or already has) it’s own look and feel you’ll be able to weed out potential designers by aesthetics alone fairly quickly. By that I mean, if the work is great but doesn’t fit with your companies aesthetic then a working relationship is probably not a good idea.

If you have another creative on your team MAKE SURE that he or she is present in the interview and that they are allowed to ask questions. Their questions will likely be based around design, design practices, and the designers creative process on individual pieces. You’ll want to know what the designers role was on the pieces that they are showing you. Did they take the picture on the front cover, art direct a photographer, or grab it off of a stock photo site.

You should expect to see between 8-10 pieces in a portfolio. If the designer did their homework those pieces will reflect the things your company does. If you’re a web firm and the designer brings you 8 print pieces to look at I’d say the interview is over.

EXPERIENCE
When looking at the companies the designer has worked for, make sure you ask about their specific roles within the positions they’ve held. You’ll want to make sure that the work that you’ll be having them do matches their skill set so both you and the designer will be happy working together. You don’t want them to leave you in 2 weeks because they are bored with the kind of work you have them doing. Set your job requirements and expectations up front.

RESUME
There’s a difference of opinion on this but I tend to shy away from over-designed resumes. I feel the purpose of a resume is to display experience and accomplishments. So I don’t want to see a resume that is so laced with trendy “art” elements that it distracts me from getting facts about the person I’m looking at hiring. Don’t misunderstand me, I believe a resume should be well put together and look like a designer designed it. I just don’t want it to be over the top. All that being said, if your shop IS over the top and the person you want to hire NEEDS to be over the top then you should probably ignore everything I said in those first 4 sentences.

TESTIMONIALS
Check their online profiles, reviews, and their own website for testimonials or press. Like references, these can be questionable but they can offer you more of an insight on the designers personality and how they might work with others.

EDUCATION
This is not as important of a factor when you’re hiring an experienced designer. If someone walks in your door and has worked their way up from various creative shops and has an outstanding portfolio I probably would gloss over where they went to school. My bigger concern is their work, personality and whether they will work well with me and my team. Real world experience trumps education every time in my book.

RATE
This will vary depending on the designers experience and how much you have budgeted. Do they provide a flat fee or an hourly rate? Will they give you a discount in exchange for hiring them for multiple projects? Both of those questions are valid. I once had an interview that started with the employer asking me what I needed to get paid. At the time I thought this was weird but I have come to appreciate that approach. She didn’t want to waste my time and more importantly, she didn’t want to waste hers.

I’m a Riser

Chad Wagner Design Blog / I'm A Rise

As some of you may know I am not only a graphic designer, I’m a session vocalist, songwriter, and over all music fanatic. Because music means so much to me I find a lot of my inspiration comes from melodies and optimistic lyrical content. Dierks Bentley’s latest CD “Riser” was one of my favorites of 2014 and last week was nominated for a Grammy for Country Album of the year. Growth is a major theme of the album, which he began writing in grief following the death of his father and finished as he was celebrating the arrival of his son.

Perhaps I was drawn to this CD because I’m a long time Bentley fan? Or maybe I like to sing every track in my car? While both those statement are true, I believe that I went through some serious career changes in 2014 and needed the optimism that was captured on Riser to help me be better at what I am trying to do with my business, for my clients, and my family.

I’m trying to RISE my business from “just another freelancer” to THE designer to call when you need something done right.

I’m trying to RISE my clients products and services in their markets.

I’m trying to RISE in order to better support my family in all aspects.

Aren’t the majority of us trying to RISE in one way or the other?

People want to do business with people they like, respect, and trust. How’s this for a sales pitch?

“I’m a riser
I’m a get off of the ground, don’t run and hider
Pushin’ comes to shove
Hey I’m a fighter
When darkness comes to town, I’m a lighter
A get out aliver, of the fire
Survivor”

– Dierks Bentley/Riser

Cut the crap and give it to me straight

Chad Wagner Design, Kansas City Graphic Designer Blog

I listened to a great podcast this week that featured a conversation with Mike Rowe. The concept of “following your passion” has been an overused source of content for podcasts, bloggers, and authors as of late and Mr. Rowe’s thoughts regarding “following your passion” was sweet, sweet music to my ears. Let’s take a trip inside Mike Rowe’s head shall we.

“I’m fascinated by the beginning of American Idol. Every year, thousands of aspiring pop-stars show up with great expectations, only to learn that they don’t have anything close to the skills they thought they did. What’s amazing to me, isn’t their lack of talent – it’s their lack of awareness, and the resulting shock of being rejected. How is it that so many people are so blind to their own limitations? How did these people get the impression they could sing in the first place? Then again, is their incredulity really so different from the surprise of a college graduate who learns on his first interview that his double major in Medieval Studies and French Literature doesn’t guarantee him the job he expected? In a world where everyone gets a trophy, encouragement trumps honesty, and realistic expectations go out the window.

Passion is too important to be without, but too fickle to be guided by. Which is why I’m more inclined to say, “Don’t Follow Your Passion, But Always Bring it With You.”

I listen, read, and respect a lot of different content through out the week but Mike Rowe’s words rang in my ears the loudest this past week. I invite you to add it to your playlist this week. Enjoy.

https://www.entreleadership.com/podcasts/somebody’s-gotta-do-it-with-mike-rowe

5 Reasons to hire a graphic design professional

5 Reasons to hire a graphic design professional, Chad Wagner Design Blog Post

A lot of small business owners try to cut corners when they first open their business. Going cheap on your branding and marketing materials will cost you, as far as how your business is seen in the market place.

There’s a major difference between a $25 logo purchased online and one that has been created specifically for your business and what it stands for. Good graphic designers will know the best ways to communicate your products and services to your customers. Design professionals know what your competition does because they do the research. Perhaps most importantly, graphic designers will develop your art in the proper software so that it can be printed properly. Designing anything in Microsoft Office is not going to do the trick when it comes time to deliver press-ready art to the printer for production.

Here are 5 reasons why it’s worth hiring a professional graphic designer:

1. Look professional
This is the most important reason to hire a graphic design professional. If design isn’t your profession, it’s unlikely that you understand the nuances of presenting your business visually. Designers know the language of color and imagery and how to combine the right elements to create the best presentation of your company. Regardless of the level of your company’s success, you need to present an image of expertise that customers can trust.

2. Save time
You’re an expert at your business. Graphic designers are experts at graphic design. By taking advantage of a graphic design professional’s expertise, you’ll save time and get the project done quickly and correctly. Do what you do best, and delegate the rest.

3. Get noticed
Today, we’re bombarded by thousands of advertisements all begging for our attention. A professional graphic designer knows how to attract the attention of your target market while portraying your company’s best image.

4. A fresh perspective
Business owners know their company best—a graphic design professional respects that, but sometimes the business owner knows the company too well. A good graphic designer will listen to a business owner and help them focus on the real reasons why their business resonates with it’s audience.

5. Get it done right
You don’t want your graphic design job on press when the pressman discovers that you didn’t set your traps correctly, or your fonts are corrupted. Don’t take the chance of a costly redo—get it right the first time by using a graphic design professional. How about a website with pages that are slow to load, hard to find, or all but unreadable? If anyone does find your site, they’re sure to leave quickly. Don’t frustrate your potential customers.

A graphic designer professional is a trusted partner and creative advisor that will benefit the business owner for many years to come. Get to know them and review their previous work to make sure they will be a good fit for your company and team. More on that in a future post.

Take A Walk

takeawalk

I love a good walk. It’s a piece of time that allows my mind to relax and wander around a bit. Beautiful scenery and seeing things from a different perspective, stimulates creative thought and imagination better than most activities I have experienced. Obvious walking has physical benefits, but the mental benefits of walking is what I treasure most. When I feel stuck on a project or concept I make it a habit to walk away from my work area. That walk can be 15 minutes, an hour, inside, or out. Just physically moving is typically enough to get my brain headed in the direction of a great solution.

Whether you want to improve your body, your mind or both, the benefits of walking are many. Here are just some reasons I choose to walk.

  • Walking energizes people and makes them more alert
  • Walking in varying environments can inspire new ideas and stimulate creativity
  • Walking outdoors with fresh air and light, improves physical and mental well-being
  • Walking increases brain function that increases the ability to solve problems faster

What does walking do for you?

My thoughts on crowdsourcing

By this time most people are aware of what crowdsourcing is. For those of you who don’t, crowdsourcing websites broker hundreds of design projects and customers post projects and designers bid on them with the lowest price typically wins. My intent of writing this post is not to break any new ground on the subject, but rather add one more negative piece on it in the hope that it helps just one person come to this realization … the idea of crowd sourcing design work sucks.

From the designer’s perspective. You see someone wanting a specific kind of logo and willing to pay $200 for the best one. Considering the 100 to 1 odds you might actually get paid, do you think that person is actually going to spend any real time on the psychology behind your logo design? Hell No, they have a stockpile of logos that their “real” clients rejected somewhere tucked away in a folder collecting cyber dust. In ten minutes they change the name, and that’s what you get, recycled garbage.

The reality for the client. The designer is not spending any time gaining an understanding about your business. Essentially you’re getting a design that may be pretty, but ineffective and meaningless. If “ineffective and meaningless” is how you describe your business to potential customers then maybe crowdsourcing IS right for you. My bet is, it is not.

Graphic design, in my opinion, is more than 50% customer service. Many great business deals are done over hand-shakes and a coffee, with a REAL human connection. You need to be able to look your designer in the eye and see if they are worthy of telling your story. Without good people and great partnerships there is no good business.

I would love to hear your crowdsourcing stories.