Category: Client Services

The secret to a happy client relationship

I’ve been working with clients for over ten years now…

During which time I’ve learned there are three crucial steps that have to be taken to ensure a long and happy client-agency relationship.

Obviously there are multiple ways to maintain good relations but, for me, the most important steps, above all others, are setting realistic expectations, documenting them and communicating them from the very beginning. 

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Be realistic

If you do this from the start of a project there will be no nasty surprises for either party and you will quickly develop trust – the magic ingredient for a long and happy relationship.

Put your cards on the table; explain how you work, all charges, exactly what’s included and when it will be delivered. Don’t promise anything you can’t deliver, honesty is always the best policy and crucial to building that trust.

Create a specification

Always provide a detailed specification to show exactly what will be delivered and who will be responsible for delivering each element. If requests for work outside of the spec are made there is no uncertainty as to whether they are included. At a minimum, the specification protects the client from under-delivery and the agency from over-delivery, at its best it provides a solid starting point for ongoing development of a project. 

Communication is key

So, expectations have been set and everyone is happy. The specification has been drafted, commented on, redrafted and agreed. It’s tempting at this point to think the job is done, please don’t make this mistake. It has really only just got going. Happiness and longevity is now, much like in any relationship, about communication.

Keep up a regular touch point (weekly / monthly) with all of your partners. This has to be at the very least on the phone. We are a digital agency, everything we do aims to bring businesses online and grow them that way. That doesn’t mean we want to dehumanise business. It’s vital to speak to your partners on the phone, it’s even better if you can have regular face-to-face meetings. I keep mentioning it, trust is much easier to build and maintain through open dialogue. It is much harder to read somebody’s mood via email, this can create issues that can be easily avoided with the human touch.

Sometimes there won’t be much to say, don’t let this put you off from having your regular call. Get to know your partners – what they did on the weekend, where they like to eat, what sports they like and whether they have a family.

Final thought

None of this is rocket science but in the middle of the week when you are drowning in emails and need to produce three specifications by 3pm on a Friday it’s easy to forget. It’s at that very point that these three steps are so important to follow – you’ll be surprised at how forgiving and accepting people will be if you are realistic with them and communicate any situations early enough. Especially as you remembered their partners birthday was on the weekend and congratulated them on their sons Sunday league win the week before.

It’s a cliche, but aren’t most of the powerful lessons? Treat others like you want to be treated yourself.

 

How to deal with being short-staffed

Every agency has been there.

Those few weeks when the planets align in a mysterious way to leave you with half as many staff as usual, often due to either parental leave, illness or holidays – or, if you’re really out of luck, all of the above.

Left unchecked, being short-staffed can quickly turn into a sticky situation for any digital project manager. Without the necessary manpower, how can you keep key targets and new incoming requests on track?

In my experience it always pays to keep the following fundamentals in mind…

Speak up and prioritise

Whenever a client raises an issue, we always make sure to respond in a timely manner. We set ourselves an internal target to reply to client requests with a certain amount of time, and organise our workload based on urgency. When staff are thin on the ground, this prioritisation is key to whether or not I distract the guys that are here.

If it’s a new incoming request, we take the opportunity to speak to the client, find out their priorities and explain our situation. One friendly phone call is often all is takes to put together an agreeable and efficient timescale for the work to be completed.

Sharing is caring

…and make sure the right jobs are given to the right people! Although this one sounds pretty simple, over the years I’ve seen a fair few people get the wrong end of the stick.

This is all about knowing your staff, their abilities and who is the best person for each job. Also, as project manager, you have to be the first person to muck in with everybody else. I’m no coding mastermind like some members of our team but I can certainly upload assets to a CMS and deal with any client queries relating to that. Remember guys, teamwork makes the dream work.

Keep calm and carry on

Effective communication is just as important internally and, when we’re all under unexpected pressure, nobody wants to be talked to in a manner that insults or interrupts the flow of delivering a piece of work.

At Candidsky, we’re also careful never to over-do it and encourage our staff to take regular microbreaks to recharge their mental batteries. Even when my production teams are under the cosh and smashing out an important project, we make sure they all get out of the building for lunch, take a break from their screens or I simply bring them hot drinks (and even doughnuts because I’m such a nice guy).

Positivity, level infinity

Finally, ladies and gents, one of the most important factors is to stay positive!

Attitude is everything. Working together, feeling prioritised, organised, supported and not run into the ground can only bring a positive workplace. Add that to clear client communication and you’re onto a winner. 

Oh, and remember that this is only a temporary spot of bother. Like the magnificent wildebeest of the Serengeti plains, your staff will soon return to fertile ground. (Yes, we have been watching the new series of Planet Earth.)

Why we use the Net Promoter Score

Before we begin, I just want to give you a few stats:

  • 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from 20% of your existing customers  (Gartner Group)
  • A 5% increase in customer retention increases profits by up to 95%  (Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company – the inventor of NPS)
  • The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60% to 70%, the probability of selling to a new prospect is 5% to 20% (Marketing Metrics

So what are you doing to ensure you’re keeping your customers loyal?

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

At CandidSky we have implemented a process which involves getting feedback from clients and making changes to improve our output to make clients even happier.

The Net Promoter Score (NPS), is based on a simple question you ask your customers to determine how happy they are with your service:

‘How likely is it that you would recommend [insert your company] to a friend or colleague?’

The customer is asked to give a score from 1-10 with 1 being not likely at all and 10 being extremely likely. Depending on their answers, customers are grouped into three categories:

  • Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others, fueling growth
  • Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are vulnerable to competitive offerings
  • Detractors (score 0-6) are unhappy customers who can damage your brand and impede growth through negative word-of-mouth

To get your overall score, you need to subtract the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters.

Courtesy of https://www.netpromoter.com/know/

Courtesy of www.netpromoter.com/know/

Closing the loop

Getting the NPS score is only the beginning, as collecting a score alone won’t lead to keeping your customers loyal.

The next step is to act on the score to discover why your customers scored you what they did. Once you know the reasons, you have valuable feedback to work with to ensure that you improve your services in relevant areas and keep customers coming back for more.

Communicate

It’s important to communicate with your clients what you’re doing and why. You want them to know how important they are and that you are constantly looking for ways to improve your service to keep them happy.

Final thought

Measuring your NPS score can be a great early indicator of any issues that need to be addressed and resolved before they become a problem. The stats from Gartner Group, Reichheld and Marketing Metrics are difficult to ignore, and to most of us ring completely true. Anything you can do to keep your existing customers happy will have a huge impact on your bottom line. Not only that, but the feedback you get from existing clients will continually improve your sales process by highlighting your strengths and weaknesses.