As an agency, you’re probably used to hectic schedules, chaotic meetings, and requests that can feel unmanageable. Yet, there’s a certain magic to the thrill – you love working on different projects and creating something from start to finish that you can feel proud of. If you’re anything like us, you’ve gone through a number of agency ups and downs that you wouldn’t trade for the world.
Still, being armed with the right attitude and agency philosophy can help you handle those lows all the more gracefully. When you know what you’re good at, what clients need, and what you can deliver, you’ve got a recipe for success. All you need to round it out are the right relationship management skills to keep both you and your clients happy.
As a small B2B, we know how tough managing relationships can be. That’s why we’ve put together these eight secrets that have helped us maintain positive relationships, all while meeting our bottom line and helping us spread good word of mouth.
8 Agency Secrets for a Perfect Client Relationship
1. Don’t over promise.
Clients want big results fast, but if you’re unrealistic about just how much you and your agency can accomplish, you’ll leave your clients disappointed and your team demoralized. Instead, be clear about your team’s expectations and timelines. Know just how much you can deliver and when, and, in case of doubt, remember: less is more. If you promise your clients exactly what you know you can deliver, and then deliver beyond those expectations – they’ll be overjoyed.
2. Go above and beyond.
Find little ways of bringing your clients extra joy. Throw in small benefits they don’t expect, like extra social media graphics, a few extra seconds in a commercial, or even something as small as a celebratory basket on the day of a major campaign launch. These little touches will show your clients how much you care – and hopefully won’t take you very much extra effort.
3. Anticipate service needs.
Do you offer everything you clients might need? Though a client may come to you looking for one specific service, offering related services can turn a client into a lifelong fan.
For instance, if you work for a marketing agency, do you offer video production and marketing services to your clients, along with social media, web design, and content services? Look for holes in your offerings and try to fill them, either with in-house or outsourced help. Being proactive in this way will make you not only successful in business, but a leader in your industry.
4. Don’t doubt your expertise.
Clients will want to do things their own way, but it’s your job to remind them why they hired you. You’ve got years of experience, you’ve hired people who specialize in their field, and you’ve worked with brands like theirs to great success. Listen to them, hear their ideas, and be mindful of their expectations, but if clients begin to micromanage, don’t sacrifice your work to appease them. Let them know – obviously in a warm and polite way – that you want the best results, and you know how to get those results. Do this by providing proof; more on that below!
5. Data speaks louder than words.
Are you excited to present a new idea or strategy to your client? Or are they pushing for something you know won’t work? Data is your friend! Have proof ready about the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of everything you’re doing. Use data, analytics, case studies, industry trends, and more to give your strategies credibility and weight.
6. Be understanding.
You’re an agency, but you likely know what it’s like to be a client. You know communication is often slow, timelines are often challenged, and expectations aren’t always met. It can suck. So be understanding! If a client is being pesky and emailing you at all hours, there may be a reason behind it. Do your best to not get upset and work diligently to keep communication open. Understanding is one of the foundations of a good relationship, so don’t lose it.
7. Did something go wrong? Be honest.
Things will go wrong at some point, there’s no denying that. But the more transparent and honest you are, the better. Admitting fault is scary, but it serves you better in the long run. First, the client will appreciate your forthrightness. You’ll build goodwill and, if you’re sincere in your apology, can help your client overcome that initial upset. Second, the more quickly you admit fault, the more quickly you can work together to solve the problem.
8. Document everything.
From notes during a phone call to contract details and more, make sure you leave a solid paper trail when it comes to client dealings. This is important not only from an organizational standpoint, but becomes crucial in cases of miscommunication or misunderstandings. When you can point to evidence, there is little left to doubt.
Bonus: 3 Client Secrets for a Perfect Agency Relationship
A lot of the agency tips above can and should also apply to clients, but we’ve also taken note of a few special tips clients should keep in mind when they’re working with agencies.
1. Remember your ABCs: Always. Be. Communicating.
Better than any sales mantra, always be communicating should be your go-to phrase. Always tell your agency what’s on your mind. If you have any new ideas, strategies, updates, or changes, be sure to let them know. If you don’t, you slow down workflows and add new obstacles to the development process.
2. Be open to new creative ideas.
Does something sound too radical or too different? That’s why you hired the experts! If something sounds too out of your comfort zone, ask for evidence. Where did this idea come from? Has it succeeded in the past? Is there data to back it up? Once you get the research in your hands, be open to testing the waters. The right agency will work hard to make sure you’re successful – after all, the more successful you are, the more successful they are, too!
3. Understand the agency model.
Of course, as the client, you’re important. But understand that you’re also not your agency’s only client. Have reasonable expectations about deadlines and work hours. Adjust your wants based on what you purchased. If you’re spending more than the average client, you might deserve a little more attention. On the other hand, if you haven’t been responsive or have otherwise neglected your duties, you may not receive the best service. Keep these variables in mind before jumping to conclusions (or down the throat of your agency!)
Building the perfect agency-client relationship requires hard work from both partners. Whether you’re more commonly on the agency’s side or the client’s, work together to meet your goals in a fun and friendly way. The better the relationship is, the better results will be in the end.