Successful client-agency relationships are founded on trust, communication and understanding.
However, not every client-agency relationship is perfect. At times, they are rife with discord and disagreements that eventually leads to unproductivity and disappointment for everyone involved.
However, establishing an effective communication channel between the client and the agency can help resolve conflicts and pave the path for a successful long-term relationship that is profitable for both parties. Here are 5 easy ways you can accomplish this:
Ask great questions, listen to the answers
It’s crucial that you are actively listening to your clients and the specific challenges they are faced with. Understanding your client’s concerns, pressures, and business goals, will help you formulate a strategy that will improve their business outcomes. It may be tempting to “sell” your ideas or promote what you know or think, but for fruitful communication to happen, it is more important that you are actively listening to your client and addressing their specific needs.
Even if you are in touch with your clients everyday via email, it is highly advisable to hold weekly calls, where your client is allowed a platform to candidly share their viewpoints on current project status based on the statement of work (SOW) established between both parties.
Create a communication plan
At the very beginning of a project, chalk out a communication plan that fits both your client’s and your agency’s needs. It is important for your client to know who the point of contact from your team would be, what kind of status reports they can expect and at what frequency. It is also important that they are made aware on a frequent basis as to how the project is progressing and to what extent it is meeting the required expectations. Your communication plan may include daily emails, weekly calls, monthly reports, and so on. Regular weekly calls are particularly important in allowing both you and the client to be upfront and transparent about what transpired in the past week, including achievements and roadblocks, and the best way for the project to move forward. Establishing a well laid communication plan early on also allows clients to gain trust and visibility, and they too will not have to resort to bothering you every time they need an update. Ensure that in your regular communication with the client, there is no tone of placing blame on a party, as this is the point where client-agency relationships typically unravel.
Give your clients project visibility
Your client has obviously invested a substantial amount of money into this project and will be looking for the desired ROI. In order to put your clients at ease, and as a means of improving trust, it is highly recommended that you allow them as much visibility into the project as you can. Consider giving your clients increased access to project related information by using an online work management system, where they can get live insights into various processes. These systems also typically allow you to customize how much access each member of the project is allowed, so you don’t have to worry about exposing confidential information. Enabling access to project statuses for your clients gives them a sense of involvement and control, and can also eliminate the need to have repeated, redundant calls, because your client is already completely aware of what is going on.
Use a collaboration tool that works for your agency
Crowded inboxes can be a bane to productivity. It is not uncommon for important emails about various project related updates to slip through the cracks of overflowing inboxes. Using a collaboration tool eliminates this risk and allows team members and clients to view each other’s comments, inputs and observations on specific documents and files. Effective collaboration tools, such as, Slack, Google Drive, Office 365, DropBox, and others, foster partnership between clients and agencies, by keeping activities transparent. Your client no longer has to be made privy to only the output, instead they will have insights into how a project is developing, right from the start.
Communication is the key to keep your client-agency relationship moving in the right direction. While it is expected that there will be friction, at times, between both parties, it is important to keep sight of the bigger picture and the business goals they have set out to achieve. With effective communication and collaboration, the project can be completed in a streamlined manner, therefore, generating positive outcomes for both the client and the agency.