Difficult clients are no fun.
They often don’t pay on time, are never satisfied, put a strain on valuable resources, and seem to be in a constant state of grumpiness. However, with a little help, even the most unpleasant clients can turn to gold.
Below are three tips to help you transform rocky relationships into dream client scenarios.
1. Help Clients Pay On Time
Before you begin any client work, outline your agency’s payment terms—in writing. In the payment contract, define:
- How agency services are priced and invoiced.
- When payment is due.
- Any late payment penalties.
Select a meeting time to verbally review the details of the document in-depth, and encourage an open discussion around payment options. Answer any questions your client has about the contract, and co-sign the document once you are on the same page.
With your client firmly on board, make the recurring interactions around payments a breeze. Send them invoices that are as complete and easy-to-read as possible, and offer a variety of payment options (such as cash, check, money orders, credit card, mobile payments and Bitcoin).
2. Encourage Open Communication and Transparency
Remove the guesswork around project status by utilizing technology that supports better agency-client relationships. For instance, consider investing in:
- A feedback tool, such as Client Heartbeat. This helps you identify your happy, sad and neutral clients through surveys that encourage honest critiques. You can also gain access to industry data and benchmarks to see how your agency’s performance stacks up against the competition.
- A project collaboration tool, such as Google Drive. You can create, share and work simultaneously on documents, spreadsheets, presentation decks and more. Clients will always know where a project stands—and how much still needs completed.
- A project management tool, such as WorkflowMax. You can keep tabs on the status of a project, and easily manage your internal team. You can also easily keep deadlines on schedule—which makes clients super happy.
Aside from adopting these tools, you should also schedule quarterly check-in meetings with your client to discuss what’s working, and if there are any potential areas that need improvement. (Tip: On a weekly basis, deliver an email that provides a high-level snapshot of activity status, KPIs and campaign/project wins (and losses) to increase transparency and encourage conversations around performance).
3. Seek Expertise From Senior Leadership
Entry-level or mid-level personnel may not always know how to effectively navigate challenging client situations. This is ok—it just means these professionals may need to seek out that expertise within their agency.
If a senior-level person is not already on the account, loop them in for their advice on handling your tough client communications.
You can also introduce and include a senior-level colleague on your next client call or email communication with your problem client. This added support from an outside perspective may help reduce any tension, and make the client feel more at ease knowing there’s a senior-level professional working on their account.
Additional Tips to Build the Best Agency-Client Relationships
For more information about improving client relationships, check out these other (awesome) resources:
- Secret Tips for Agencies to Improve Client Relationships
- Agencies: Is It Time to Divorce Your Clients?
- How To Communicate Your Value to Agency Clients With Confidence
- How to Avoid Client / Agency Collaboration Disasters
How do you handle challenging client relationships? Share your own methods to battle the crazy and the critical in the comment section below.
Image Source: Sham Hardy under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic