Maintaining strong client relationships is one of the many keys to unlocking business growth and long-term success. Unlike product-based businesses, digital marketing agencies work directly with clients to achieve their goals, placing a lot of significance on the relationship they share.
Clients come in all shapes and sizes – some easy, some tough, and some completely bizarre. But your job as an agency is to deliver top-tier results regardless of who the client is – and that can be challenging. In this guide, we’ll focus on how to master client management for good.
Understand Your Clients
To provide your clients with the best service possible, you need to research and identify who your target audience is to tailor those services effectively.
Understanding client expectations and knowing how to navigate different ones will make your client management process much more agile and effective. Conducting market research is one of the best ways to achieve this, bringing many benefits to your agency, such as:
- Drives business reputation – Agencies known for great client interactions are much more likely to gain positive reception from the industry.
- Increases conversion rates – The more client-friendly your business is, the more eager brands will be to work with you, thus driving up conversion rates and bringing you profit.
- Stimulates business growth – As a service-based business, you won’t get very far without strong client management skills. Understanding your clients pushes your agency forward.
Clear and concise communication is integral to client management. Without an open line of communication, understanding each other’s needs, goals, concerns, and expectations will be impossible.
Take a look at these tips for better communication:
- Don’t interrupt – Nobody likes being interrupted, and your clients are no exception. When it’s their turn to speak, give them the floor.
- Take notes – Keeping track of what your clients say is essential for giving them what they ask for. Make sure to document your communication along the way.
Not all communication channels are equal, and some are only appropriate for certain times. Email, phone calls, video conferencing and in-person meetings all have their pros and cons, and your agency should utilise them based on the preferences and needs of each client.
Setting Realistic Expectations
Setting realistic expectations is a fundamental aspect of good client management and communication. Essential from the outset, setting achievable goals is what will help you and your team deliver results that both your clients and your employees are proud of.
If you set expectations that are too high, the client could be disappointed with the outcome. If they’re too low, it may give them a lack of faith in your capabilities. Managing client expectations is important for project timelines, deliverables, and outcomes.
Transparency and Accountability
Transparency and honesty help to instil trust and confidence in your client relationships. This can be achieved through providing regular project updates, progress reports, and performance metrics that illustrate your position at every step of the way.
When the inevitable bump in the road is hit, be honest with your clients about what it means, why it happened – and what solutions you are working on to fix it. Most clients will be understanding (within reason) as long as you take responsibility and seek to solve the issue.
Trust plays a huge role in client management and client satisfaction. Here are some tips for building trust through open communication, delivering results, and meeting deadlines:
- Admit to mistakes – If you encounter a problem, don’t shirk away from responsibility. Own up to it, apologize, and come up with a solution.
- Delivering results – This is why setting realistic goals and expectations is so important. It means you can deliver reliable results and show clients that you are worth their trust.
- Be personable – You may be a business, but you’re also in the business of client relationships. Treat your clients like humans and show them the human side of your team. This can create a more empathic, trusting relationship between agency and client.
Handling Difficult Clients
Active listening, empathy, and maintaining professionalism is essential for navigating challenging situations. Occasionally, a difficult client will come along, and you need to be equipped to handle them. Here are some tips for approaching these challenges gracefully:
- Set expectations early – Don’t wait to outline the exact parameters of your client’s expectations. Hash out the project goals, scope, budget, and as many details as possible from the get-go to avoid confusion later on.
- Update and refine your contracts –If a client has an issue with your work, they may try to back out of the contract. Make sure to regularly update your client contracts for legal protection in the event of conflict.
- Say no – Although it can be hard when you’re a growing business, saying no to clients that you don’t see eye to eye with is a normal and important part of client management.
Continual Improvement and Feedback
Feedback is extremely valuable for client management. Even negative feedback is valuable because it helps you understand what you can do to improve client’s experiences with your agency – thus helping you become even more successful and profitable.
Here are some suggestions for gaining and implementing feedback effectively, and using it to improve client satisfaction and agency performance:
- Create spaces for feedback – Develop a survey for recent clients to fill in once a project is over. Ask them a range of questions relating to things like communication, compromise, customer service, and project satisfaction.
- Ask your employees, too – Employees can also provide useful information for the way your agency tackles projects. Ask for their opinions on what can be improved about workflow, team collaboration, delegation, and more.
- Be open-minded – When you receive constructive criticism, it can be a hard pill to swallow. But ultimately, all feedback helps you grow and evolve as a business. Be open to it and see it as an opportunity to improve.
Make Client Management A Top Priority
Great client management skills will help your business stand out from the competition and gain the best clients along the way. By building trust, setting clear boundaries, and being open to feedback, these client management practices can have a positive impact on your digital agency’s growth and reputation.