NY Times-Diva designer extraordinaire
There's a sign in the staff kitchen at one of the other retail locations for the day job that says something to the effect of, "Treat every customer as if they will repeat their experience here to all of their friends. And exaggerate every detail. Because they will." And I can pretty much say with full assurance that statement is true. If you choose to work in the service industry (and since those are most of the jobs available in the U.S., you probably already are), you need to put customer service at the top of the priority list. So imagine my shock when I read this article in the Times the other day.
West Elm Sleeper sofa used in project
I'll sum up the article for you. The client is someone who has lived in several different countries during his career and is moving to NYC with not much furniture to his name. The client has a budget of $10,000 to do everything from painting, basic contracting (whatever the building will allow), electrical, furniture and accessories. To most people, that sounds like a lot but you'd be surprised how fast the expenses add up. The designer's services were offered for free through an agreement with the NY Times. But hey, a full page ad in the Times can set you back $10,000 easily. The designer needs to think of their services not as free but instead being paid via the barter of a huge article in the Times.
So things start off well with the client and the designer but problems, some pretty big, arise and when the client protests, the designer actually says, “The client usually begins by pointing out things that they like. It almost seems like I owe you — and I don’t.”
The lessons to take away after reading this article are first, communication is absolutely critical. The sooner a client is told about a problem (and offered a solution), the better they'll take it. Second, if your regular bed is a sleeper sofa, this is not the time to cut corners. Cheap sofa bed now means lots of chiropractor bills later. And third, if you know your work is going to be covered in the NY Times, put your very best foot forward!
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Christine Schwalm is an Interior Designer and Visual Merchandiser based in Los Angeles. This space will keep you updated on what's going on with CSD along with some ideas to inspire you. Go here for more information about pricing and services and here to make an appointment.