Find out how you can provide service that’s above and beyond.
Project managers at creative marketing agencies have one of the most pressure-packed jobs on the planet. One simple mistake or misstep that causes a client to leave could have a big negative impact on your agency… and your career.
Check out these eight simple hacks that can improve the level of service you provide to clients. They’ll help you rest assured knowing you’re doing everything possible to do your job right.
1. Communicate often. Then communicate some more.
When you don’t communicate with clients, they can only imagine what’s going on. And what they imagine is usually far worse than the reality.
When you proactively reach out to clients, you take control over the narrative and have direct influence over what they think about you, your work, the agency and it’s creative product.
Good communication starts at the very beginning of each client relationship and of every project. It’s critical to understand the client’s expectations and project’s scope and goals. The client must tell you what they want to achieve so you can manage their expectations before work begins and throughout the whole creative development process. If you really “get” your clients, you’ll be able to provide meaningful guidance when you run into scheduling, cost, creative and other issues.
You’ll be viewed as the hero who saves the day when obstacles to success get in the way.
This is far better than hiding out, not communicating and simply hoping for the best. You owe it to clients to be an active manager and communicator.
2. Understand client businesses, brands and industries.
Agencies are responsible for delivering top-tier creative marketing solutions that get results. The only way to do that is to have a deep understanding of what their clients do, along with their brands, goals and competitors.
Project managers like you must be the client business and brand experts for their agencies. You’re the link between the clients and creative team. You’re perfectly positioned to educate creative talent about all the brand and business aspects of a project, including the goals the client wants to achieve. You’re also able to check the creative product against those things before it’s shared with clients.
Of course, this is a big responsibility for you. Try thinking about it in a different light. It also gives you the power to own the relationship and make it successful.
Did you know: The agencyMAX solution automatically stores client brand and other important information with each project so it’s always easy for you to access it during the creative development process?
3. Speak the client’s language.
You may be working for a creative agency, but you’re probably dealing with clients who are marketers or salespeople. Agency creatives are comfortable talking about type, images, color and user experience, but your clients want to hear about marketing and sales goals and results.
That’s why you must think and communicate not only like a design professional, but also as a marketer and salesperson. When communicating with clients about design, it’s important to put it in the context of how the creative choices made will generate business results.
· Is a color used on a website known to get more clicks?
· Was a typeface selected because it expresses the essence of a brand to prospects and clients?
· Was an image chosen because it’s been tested in social media and is proven to earn likes, comments and shares?
It’s critical for design professionals to understand kerning, color theory and image retouching. You must be able to explain how investing in these things will pay off in better business results.
4. Treat clients as people.
It’s easy for project managers to turn into customer service reps when it comes time to deal with clients. This can come across as cold and uncaring. Your clients care deeply about the work your agency does for them. It’s a key contributor to the success of their businesses and their future career prospects. That’s why it’s important for you to treat clients as actual people with feelings and individual needs and not as mere records in a database or parts of a project plan.
No one likes being treated as a number. Always take time for a brief chat at the beginning of a call or meeting. Ask about work, family and personal interests rather than just diving into business. It will demonstrate that you care about clients as people and not merely as individuals you have to work with.
Tip: If you find it challenging to remember personal information about clients, keep notes about your client conversations in your client relationship or agency management system. This will make it easy for you to pick up where you left off.
5. Get back to clients quickly.
The most vulnerable time in any agency relationship is when clients have questions or express concerns. It’s a sure sign they don’t “get” something or think things are heading in the wrong direction.
Always respond to questions and concerns as quickly and accurately as possible. It will help you gain control over an issue before it becomes a serious problem. The longer it takes to respond, the angrier or more anxious a client is likely to get. It’s also a mistake to come back with an incomplete or inaccurate response.
A good way to handle the riskiest of these situations is to schedule time with clients as soon as you are able. Bring in everyone on your team who can help answer questions and resolve concerns. This will take a negative situation and turn it into a positive because it demonstrates that the people at your agency care about clients and will stop everything to respond to their requests.
Tip: If your agency doesn’t already have one, you should develop a client response policy. It should include timeframes and best practices around how to respond to client questions, requests and concerns.
6. Communicate the reasons for staffing changes.
If your agency needs to swap out a team member on an account, speak directly to the client about it and explain why the change is needed. Don’t just have a new name appear on a project plan or meeting notice. This could leave clients questioning whether the agency is doing a bait-and-switch, replacing a top talent with a lesser one and hoping to get away with it unnoticed. Taking time to discuss the change, explaining the rationale behind it and introducing the new team member to the client will help them feel this is a positive change and not one that could be bad for their business.
7. Ask for feedback.
Does your client think you and your agency are providing them with great service? Are you sure?
Why not regularly ask clients for feedback so you’ll know for certain?
Many project managers have the mistaken belief that clients are happy unless they complain. The truth is that most people who are unhappy with the service they’re getting from their agency don’t raise any issues before they take their business elsewhere. Regularly — and honestly — asking clients how things are going can help you address issues as they come up.
8. Go above and beyond.
Doing what’s expected isn’t enough in today’s hyper competitive creative agency universe. Always going above and beyond is necessary because if you don’t, someone else at another agency will. Find ways to deliver projects earlier and better than expected. Identify opportunities to save your clients money. If something great happens in a client’s life, take time to recognize it.
Going the extra mile will not only make your clients happy, it will also ensure your own success and that of the agency you work for. And in the end, isn’t that a win-win for everyone involved?