Sharing customers is an excellent way to get direct sales in any field. It is especially important for artists who have little time left over in their schedules. Using a network or association to gain sales makes acquiring customers easier. Being part of a network or association requires agreement about methods of providing fair customer service. Every time a customer is served through a network or association, the experience they have reflects on the entire group of artists. It is important to keep to high standards of customer service for this reason.
Associations and networks help the group as a whole gain a reputation for good work and fair prices. It also helps spread the word about art being created and sold by group members. Any members of the group who do not follow the policies and practices of the rest will give the group a bad name. This will negatively impact sales and can force some artists out of business. Writing down policies and enforcing them is an important step to building the reputation of the group.
It is not always easy to help a customer when doing custom art work. Customers may already have an idea of exactly what they want before contacting the artist. Communication is a key element in this scenario. An artist should always feel comfortable with the work they are commissioned to do. They should be able to explain to the customer whether or not they can complete the requested commission. Customers appreciate knowing what is involved and whether or not the item they seek is available or can be made. This keeps the group reputation intact.
There will always be customers who have unique orders. If a customer is referred to an artist who specializes in ceramics, this may be a chance to practice customer service skills. A set of dishes with an intricate design on all pieces is a costly purchase. Explaining the labor costs and offering less expensive alternatives such as ceramic decals or ceramic transfers for intricate patterns will show the customer that the artist and the group are willing to work out solutions. Good customer service has been offered and the group’s reputation will spread.