In the time that I've been moving from a young design pup into a... larger design pup, I've noticed a trend in designer/client relations: the multiple revision. One trap that a lot of designers fall into is making a lot of small changes or small revisions to a client's piece, because the client doesn't want to give all of the changes at once.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME
This didn't used to be an issue. Back when type had to manually be set, the client understood that they had one and one chance only to get everything correct, and likewise, the typesetters were extremely cautious about making sure they got everything right (many had editors looking over the work).
Now, type is set very quickly in programs like Illustrator, InDesign and Quark. This is a fantastic development for the industry, but all of its effectiveness is lost if a client is allowed to repeat the process of making one change, waiting for you to make it, looking over the piece, and then sending back another change. In essence, we have traded the time cost of good QA with the time cost of redundant overhead tasks. This kind of activity tends to lower our perceived value.
VALUE VS. CONTROL
The real irony is that, despite how much customers fight giving all revisions at once, they're the ones who suffer most by not doing so. There is a lot of overhead in going back into a file (especially a complicated one), finding the small element they want adjusted or changed, making the change and creating a proof-ready sheet. And this is assuming that the client's change is actually small in nature. If it's only a change to type, that does tend to be quick (spacing adjustments notwithstanding), but if it's a graphic element, more than likely it will have to be created all over again, as it's typically not going to be manipulable. All of this costs the customer time and money (a good reason to charge by the hour).
The counter-intuitive part of all of this is that the customer tends to believe that the more changes they give you right away, the more you're going to miss, or they're going to miss, and will invariably not make it to the final product. This is an irrational fear, but it dictates that, as the designer, it is up to you to implement a sound and robust system for making corrections, so you give the customer confidence that their concerns in the design will be addressed, whether you simply make the change, or discuss it with them.
WHAT TO DO?
We have to let the customer know this, and make them understand that our goal is not only to give them exactly what they want, but give them value as well. The more we burn time making these changes, the less value we give. Sales people have a hard time understanding this, but this is definitely one area where the customer tends to be wrong. And it's okay. They don't understand what's involved in editing designs. That's why they hired us. It's up to us to explain it to them, not nod our heads and take their money.
I've found some good resources for putting on the customer service and sales hat for those who run their own gig.
I've always compared doing design work to being a pizza maker, only there's an infinite amount of toppings, and the customer never knows exactly what they want until you make it. This is part of the fun, but when it runs rampant, the customer just ends up getting burned.