The beginning of a relationship is always the best. You laugh at each other’s jokes, you look forward to every phone call, and you truly enjoy getting to know one another.
However, sometimes you hit the invisible wall of relationship doom.
In this instance, I’m referring to agency-client relationships. ...What? What did you think I was talking about?
So what causes your relationship with a client to derail? There may be a variety of reasons, including recent account team changes, shifts in priorities, pent-up client concerns, or mounting internal pressure to deliver results.
The outcome: Crankiness levels skyrocket, work starts to suffer, and the relationship begins to crumble. If you’re like most agencies, you’ll want to avoid this scenario.
Below, we’ve compiled four secrets to help bring the spark back to your agency-client relationships.
Four Tips to Improve Your Agency-Client Relationship
1. Identify the root cause.
According to a study from Chief Marketing Officer Council, the most common cause of friction between an agency and a client is a “lack of an agreed-upon set of analytics and metrics that defines success and failure,” closely followed by “limited knowledge and comprehension of the client’s business.” Do a gut check and assess if your agency is guilty of these common blunders.
Gather the account team to help identify what caused your client relationship to fall apart—and then brainstorm solutions to fix it. Once you have a clear idea of the root cause (and a game plan of how your team can mend any friction), it’s time to loop in the client.
2. Acknowledge the shift, and make amends.
Get ready to roll up your sleeves and start resuscitating your relationship.
Be proactive and set up a call or an in-person meeting with your client to address your concerns, and find an agreeable solution to identified problems. During the meeting, focus on pinpointing why the relationship turned sour based on your team’s brainstorm, and identify opportunities to remedy the situation.
Here are some quick tips to help make the conversation more successful:
- Try to avoid sounding defensive.
- Be sincere and take accountability.
- Use a friendly—but respectful—tone.
- Focus on next steps, and how your team will improve the relationship moving forward.
3. Do something special together.
If your client is nearby, take them out for a client-appreciation celebration. For instance, you could organize a catered lunch, treat them to a special dinner, or purchase tickets to their favorite sporting event. This face-time enables you to learn more about your client, while addressing any opportunities for improvement.
To make the most of your wining-and-dining, here are some ground rules you should follow:
- Keep your phone in your purse, pocket, or jacket. When your phone is in plain sight, it is tempting to respond to a text message, reply to an email or answer a phone call—but this disrupts your time with your client. Demonstrate that your time, energy and focus are solely on your client during your time together.
- Create a memorable experience for your client. However, this doesn’t mean you need to break the bank. Find out your client’s interests, and plan around their preferences.
- Watch what you say around clients. While you want to build a close relationship and establish trust, it’s best to keep some things (i.e. personal relationship drama, company finances, etc.) private.
4. Demonstrate your value.
Clients pay for results, so always demonstrate the outcomes of your efforts. Use available software solutions that are designed to pull transparent metrics of your work. Below are a few options to consider.
- Google Analytics. Gain key insights about your client’s online performance, and tie your campaign efforts to these results.
- HubSpot. Manage your client’s online presence (i.e. website, emails, blog posts, social media, etc.) and pull reports to track your progress.
- WorkflowMax. More than a shameless plug—it’s a powerful tool that has reporting capabilities that help demonstrate your value to clients. You can pull reports that highlight how much time you spend on each campaign, and even view the profitability of each client. Watch this case study to see what I mean.
While there is no universal answer to explain the relationship blues, these four tips can help remedy those sour feelings. For more tips on how to improve your agency-client relationship, check out our other blog post, Agencies: Is It Time to Divorce Your Clients?
Image Credits: thedailyenglishshow.com via Flickr Creative Commons