A made-to-order designer might be fashion’s closest equivalent to a one-man-band. When you’re juggling a dozen tasks at once (taking orders, handling social media, creating concepts, and, time forbid, actually designing), it’s easy to let small things slip through the cracks—but those small things could make or break your reputation. Keeping your customers in the loop is key as a custom designer, especially when you’re up against the warped timeline of fast fashion. Below are five tips for maintaining transparency, honesty, and communication throughout your made-to-order design process (TLDR, here’s how to keep your customers from getting pissed off).
From the jump, it’s crucial to be honest about your design process. How long do you spend creating each item? How long does shipping take? How has the pandemic affected your delivery/production times? Compiling this info into a “How it Works” or “FAQ” Instagram story highlight—and pointing it out to new customers before their purchase—prevents any unpleasant surprises.
Post behind-the-scenes content
Don’t just tell customers about your made-to-order process, show them. Snap a few photos of your workspace, record the steps that bring one design to life, or record a quick progress video. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming, or even specific to every item—an Instagram highlight or single post is enough to console impatient customers.
Stay active on Instagram
Going Instagram-MIA after taking a batch of orders might look a little shady to the customers who just paid you. Continue posting content and new designs regularly (which, bonus, also boosts your followers and engagement). If this means hiring a social media assistant or intern, it may be worth the investment.
Respond to comments and DMs
Even more important than posting is responding—if unanswered emails/DMs/comments start to stack up, your reputation takes a big hit. Take an hour each day to respond to any social media queries, even if that means pointing them towards your “FAQ” highlight. Otherwise, existing customers will get frustrated, and potential customers will be turned off if your comment section is filled with complaints.
Keep calm + thankful
No matter how many invoices, confused comments, or frustrated DMs you’re dealing with, always speak from a place of gratitude. Thank your customers for their patience, thank them for their support, and thank them for choosing slow-fashion (not just for you, but for the environment). Maintaining a level-headed mindset isn’t always easy, but it’s crucial for keeping customers’ patience—besides, once their order arrives, they’ll know it was well worth the wait.