Client relationships, just like marriages and friendships require a great deal of work. There are good times; there are bad times, happy times and bumpy times! However like all successful relationships they are built on trust and communication. Here are 12 helpful tips that will help keep both you and your client happy in the short and hopefully long term too.
Understand why they need you
The first step is to fully understand why they need you. It is vital that you and your agency know your role and the end deliverable so that you can help the client as best as possible. Perhaps in your very first meeting ask them outright why they need you and to list all their expectations upfront, this way you are both on the same page from the very beginning!
Try to have one point of contact
A client likes to know that they have one person they can count on and call for everything. Designated responsibilities also ensure that work isn’t duplicated within the agency. Assign this one person early on and let client know. Try to ensure it is someone who has a good rapport with the client.
Never underestimate the human element
Remember, clients are people too so making a proper (human) connection with a client in the beginning can be extremely helpful. Getting to know them a little will help you understand who they are, what they like, how they work, what makes them tick and vice versa. This does wonders for the trust in the relationship. Why not set up a lunch or an after work drink with the team and the client, this will help solidify the relationship early on.
Always pre-empt feedback
Creatives and professionals should critique their own work with a very critical eye before presenting it to client. If possible try to really look at it from the client’s point of view and question it with that thinking in mind. If possible run it by one or two colleagues who don’t work on the client
Make things easy for the client
Busy clients don’t have time to review 10 options (unless they have asked for this of course.) Give them 3 brilliant ones and ensure that they can respond easily in as few words and as quickly as possible. Face-to-face presentations are the best way to present work and to get a good feeling for the client’s reaction.
Deliver only your best work
Just like everyone else, clients don’t like having to give negative feedback. This is seen as an unpleasant task and so is often pushed to the bottom of the to-do list resulting in delays on projects. Always delivering great work not only keeps the workflow in motion but it helps build trust for future projects. If you don’t feel it is your best work, don’t deliver it!
Know when to say no to clients
Yes, it is OK to say no to clients and no it doesn’t always jeopardise the relationship. In fact sometimes it builds respect and can have the opposite effect. Try to always say no as politely as possible, provide your reasoning and offer a better solution. Always add value when saying no and you won’t go wrong.
Support creative thinking with practical data
Another easy way to keep the client on your page is to support all subjective creative with objective, practical data. If you can support your thinking with data, statistics or other infographics this will help considerably when trying to justify or sell an idea to client.
Always try to do your best to make it work for them, to accommodate their needs – they really appreciate this flexibility. Never come across annoyed or put out by the client, always be polite and reassure them that you have their best interests at heart.
Ask simple questions
When needing direction from a client try to ask very specific questions that allow them to say either “yes” or “no” rather than long open-ended questions. Perhaps break the work down into components and ask them about one at a time rather than to comment on the idea as a whole.
Don’t forget your own integrity
The client relationship is important but so is your integrity and that of the agency. Make sure this is always in the room with you when getting to the core of a problem or providing a solution for client. Try to remove yourself from a situation and view it from a third person perspective to ensure you react unemotionally and objectively to it.
Don’t forget to follow up
Follow up is key to effective client relationship management. If clients take time to respond simply add reminders into your diary every 2 or 3 days to give them a gentle nudge. Clients like to know that their agency is continually driving the work forward.
We hope these tips provide a helpful framework for you. Remember, the more you think about those relationships and the more you work on them the better off you and your business will be in the long run!