Client services - it’s all about the relationship
I’ve always been a stickler for client services, but I suppose that’s why I love doing the role that I do. But over the years and the various client relationships I’ve encountered along the way, I’ve always found that some have flourished into beautiful long-term friendships whilst others have perhaps floundered by the wayside. But why is that?
Having thought on it further, I’ve boiled the success of the agency client relationship (and it is just that - a relationship, not a transaction) down to five key principles that have set us up for the best success. Having shared these with my LinkedIn network of colleagues, clients and peers they have also helped to hone these further (thank you, you know who you are).
Open communications: It’s all about the relationship (much like a marriage, no less) with open and transparent communication whether it be ideas, challenges, commercials or something else. Listening and responding thoughtfully will gradually build up trust as well as mutual respect. As one colleague said, if you can get this part right, the rest will more easily follow. Being empathetic of your client means you should strive to see the world through their eyes and be willing to learn. Equally though, you should encourage them to understand your world if you are approaching this as a true partnership and ensure you are aligned on both sides to common goals, roles and responsibilities. More often than not, you can jump into a relationship without agreeing the terms of engagement which can lead to painful conversations further down the line if you’ve not agreed the boundaries up front.
Provide value: Driving value-driven conversations where you constantly bring something new to the table whether it be a new idea, latest industry musings, different ways of working or providing an introduction. Demonstrating that you’ve been thinking about your client and that you truly understand their challenges goes a long way to being aligned. Investing in getting to know your client's business is an absolute must.
Be accountable: Take responsibility for being accountable - if you say you’re going to deliver, deliver. If for whatever reason you can’t, manage it upfront. Complacency has no place in the relationship and if you rest on your laurels, you may be subconsciously nearing the end. Never take your relationship for granted and invest in delivering great work with your clients even if that means writing the brief yourself so you’re aligned and accountable.
Quality of service: Linked to number three, but quality is a must - from solid campaign ideas to spelling checks and everything in between, make sure you consistently deliver top notch work. Straight-talking honesty goes hand in hand with letting the quality of the work take centre stage. There is no room for egos, so have a degree of humility in how you deliver your programmes so the best work shines through.
Have fun: Sounds cliche, but we work quite a few hours in the day with our clients and if you can’t have a laugh along the way, then the relationship might not be for you. Yes, we’ve all got a role to play in the professional world, but it’s also good to celebrate success together, kick back and enjoy some social time together. We’re all humans after all.