The request for help arrived in my inbox at 9am. “I’m not sure which of the two slipcovers you suggested I should order online”.
I’m leery of placing online orders, particularly for fabrics, as every monitors’ representation of colour and texture will undoubtedly be skewed. I had done my professional due diligence and had gone in person, the day before, with existing room inspiration fabric swatches and wall colour selections to investigate and choose the best option(s) for the slipcover. With a bit of discussion between Pottery Barn sales staff and myself (right hand and left hand were not quite connected), I eventually departed, satisfied that I had two choices of appropriate slipcover fabric swatches in hand.
I relayed the information to my client, knowing she was going to proceed with the ordering. My job was done, or so I thought.
Upon reading the email cry for help, I was curious where the concern and confusion was. After what I thought would be a quick online search, I became aware that the two swatches I had acquired, were not exactly those reflected online. Hmmmmmm. I dug deeper into the website fabric selection page which was not terribly user friendly as I had to delete previous comparison searches, in order to continue. Eventually, a box popped up on the left to start a PB online furniture expert chat. Excellent… an expert who will answer my question. With the PB slipcover fabric selection page open, I proceeded with my chat …. not once, but 5 times. Each time I scrolled the PB page to get exact information required, the chat would disappear so I decided to minimize the next chat, and it too vanished from my screen. The last chat expert suggested I call the toll free PB number to speak to a design expert. Surely a new expert could walk me through this confusion or at the very least, recommend which slipcover fabric I should suggest my client order. Cutting to the chase, I eventually did receive the help I requested and relayed it back to my client at 1pm.
There is no moral to this story. Instead, there is insight to be imparted. When a client hires a designer/decorator, the client remunerates for our knowledge and service, for our dedication and professionalism…and most certainly for our time. Two to three hrs were spent communicating back and forth with my client, navigating the online search, chatting online with experts and finally speaking with an expert. These are billable hours. I could tell you that the minutes that turned into hours spent problem solving this issue were an anomaly…. unfortunately, they are not. None of the time spent resolving this issue was expected or predicted. I could not stop the clock for what seemed like a ridiculous amount of non-design time incurred. The fact is, there was a hiccup in the procedure, and being a professional dictates that a certain amount of time is invested in a satisfactory resolution. I could easily have made a quick, uninformed decision, but I’m not in the business of crossing my fingers and hoping for the best outcome. My business name is associated with all my professional work and ALL of my business endeavours require, knowledge, service, dedication, professionalism and time.
I will not invest my business or my client’s time on shortcuts. Design cannot happen on a dime!