You won’t (often!) get fired as an agency for getting the creative wrong first time, but if you consistently let your clients down with bad service, late work and nasty budget surprises – you’ll soon find yourself out the door.
Good client service is at the heart of everything we deliver as an agency. The glue that holds the whole thing together. The person at the end of the phone that reassures with a “don’t worry, we’ll get it done” – then figures out a way of making it happen.
However, even with our combined years of client service experience, we haven’t found a secret ingredient. It’s easy to assume you know clients, but we felt it was better to speak to the people that really do know what they want: the client. So, we asked a very respected, experienced and friendly client who was kind enough to talk to our team about bugbears and saving graces when it comes to working with agencies…
1. Get to know them
Everyone’s different and the best relationships are built on knowing what makes someone tick. It’s not necessarily about taking them for a pint, or sending birthday cards to the kids – but take time to get to know your client, learn about the environment they operate in, what their job really entails, who their main stakeholders are. Find out how they like to work and tailor your approach to best fit with them. If you don’t know, ask – they’ll appreciate you wanting to know. The more you know, the more you can look after them on a day to day basis and anticipate their future needs.
2. Know their business
Do your research. Find out about their business and the marketplace they operate in. Be seen to want to understand the company’s ambitions and how you can contribute to achieving them. Seek out and share things you see that could be of interest to them. Setting up Google alerts is an easy way to be prompted about things that could resonate with them. Build a relationship based on mutual trust and respect, and you’ll become a trusted partner, not “just” another supplier.
3. Give them what they need
If you know your client and understand their business, you’ll be in a great place to give them what they need. Your job is to question, challenge and advise. If they trust you and respect your opinion they should be prepared to listen. Equally, you need to know when to step back and recognise there could be other influences that are driving a request that you are powerless to influence. So remember, at the end of the day, they’re still the client – and if for whatever reason they choose not to take your advice – suck it up and get on with it, and do it with good grace.
4. Don’t be a ‘Yes person’
Good work comes from having an open mind, and working with people you trust and respect. The worst thing you can do, is just give your client everything they ask for without pushing it in any way. Show you care – don’t just choose the path of least resistance. Most marketing managers are generalists – you’re there to provide your specialist knowledge.
5. Service is everything
Be a safe pair of hands – do the right things at the right time.
- Deliver on time, on budget
We’re all human at the end of the day, and we all make mistakes. A good relationship and past track record allows you to weather most issues or mistakes that can (and often do) happen. If you mess up, it’s not necessarily what happens it’s how you deal with it – own the error and be part of a speedy solution.
6. Don’t be a dick
10 ways not to be a dick…don't
- Make your client look stupid
- Contradict your client in a meeting
- Make promises you can’t keep
- Leave a request so late you need an immediate response
- Send something you know is wrong, just to hit a deadline
- Send documents with typos
- Blow the budget
- Write a brief, get it signed off, then disregard it
- Seem like you can’t be bothered
7. Talk to me
Email is great, but don’t rely on it too much. Use it sparingly and keep it short. Clients will prioritise emails from people who are shouting the loudest, working in the same office, or their boss. If it’s urgent – call. If something’s gone wrong – call. And even when everything is going swimmingly, tell your client.
8. Put your hands up if you need to
Quickly, honestly. Admit if you’ve messed up. Don’t procrastinate and make things worse. Don’t blame someone else. Don’t try and cover it up. Be brave, put your hand up, and be part of the solution to get it sorted.
9. Get the basics right first
Walk before you can run. Propose new ideas for new bits of business – but get the basics right first. Don’t risk dropping a ball by focusing on the wrong things at the wrong time.
10. Add value wherever you can
Whatever it may be – research, helping with marketing plans, innovation – adding value will pay dividends. It raises your relationship status from delivery person to a trusted advisor and ally.
Simple! We’ve taken this, and the hard-earned years of experience we’ve gained working for some of the best marketers in the world and made it our priority to know the best way of how to work with you.
You can also view the video of the session that our client, Sam Stewart, brand consultant at Uncommon Marketing, held. Thanks Sam for helping us make us better.