The Art Of Client Servicing
It’s the happiest day of your life at the agency: you’ve just received a call from the client confirming they’ve signed you for the next project. After spending months preparing the perfect pitch, spending all-nighters at the office to get the wording and presentation right, you’re likely to believe the most difficult part of this process is over. But is it really?
Sorry to say, the hardest part begins now. Trust me, I speak from experience!
The next couple of months after getting signed on are most crucial to developing a long-standing and fruitful partnership with the client. Understanding their business dynamic, integrating their short and long term goals with your vision for their brand, witnessing their daily struggles and pressures – the challenges are endless.
So how can you ensure that your dream to have a client-agency relationship as continual as Unilever and JWT (over a century!) might come true? What can you do to get off on the right foot with your client?
Here are my top 3 tips:
1. Align your strategic thinking
Truly understanding your client is the first step. While we may scold children for always asking “WHY” every couple of minutes, it’s time we follow in their footsteps and ask the same. How else can you understand why your client does what they do, why do they want what they want, and why they are the way they are?
Taking a step back from the agency perspective and entering an entrepreneurial mindset is essential to comprehend all the possible ways you can add value for your client’s business needs. It’s important to speak to all departments, all key decision-makers and all stakeholders to discern their objectives and learn about their professional/business needs. It is only after this step that you’ll be able to present a holistic and thoughtful solution that can address the overall business needs in a cost-effective and beneficial manner.
Taking the time to do this right at the beginning will ensure your client is comfortable about your due diligence, your capabilities, and proud that they’ve made the right choice in selecting your agency. What a win/win for everyone!
2. Continually evolve the agency-client relationship
Typically, agencies are initially selected based on a specific skill set and objective. Along the way, trust is built through the successful execution of campaigns, desirable results, and continually improving performance. While results and performance are crucial to the happiness of a client with its partner agency, this simply isn’t enough.
Just like a real-life romantic relationship, this too can go stale if the right actions do not take place at the right time. There must be a consistent effort to keep evolving and keeping an open mind to improvements. There must be a strong drive to meet the needs of the other party in a reasonable and feasible manner. This goes for agency-client relationships too. It’s not enough for an agency to only push a positive client service relationship from its head of client services or team leaders, it must be implemented by the entire team too. An agency must seek out any opportunity possible to better meet the needs of its client whether it’s through new technologies, improved creativity or even efficient delivery.
3. Understand it’s a two-way street
What you put in, is what you get. Just like any relationship, continual effort, time, consideration and respect is the bare minimum. As an agency, responsibilities and obligations will include perpetual creativity, flawless execution, and strategies that keep up with the time. Combine these components with professionalism and you’ve got yourself a good pathway to earning and maintaining a client’s trust.
At the same time, it’s also important to anticipate future needs and stay ahead of the game. As a business, the client is likely to face challenges, unforeseen circumstances, a change in customer demand or product supply, and maybe even a change in the leadership or the team you deal with.
As an agency, it’s important to have a plan in place on how any of these changes can be dealt with in a cost-effective and timely manner, and share such strategies with the client thus building a conducive partnership.