With 10 years at Latitude within the client services team I have developed an astute awareness of the best practice principles associated with such a role within the Digital industry.
Whilst I realise there are multiple thoughts around this subject I wanted to express my thoughts whilst we have control of our social media portals this week…. I hope that you find these useful within your daily work life and it gives you a good grounding if you are just entering the world of client servicing.
I have condensed these down into five that I feel are the most effective to providing the greatest value and ensure you build the strongest client relationships. These are in no particular priority order but I would be keen to hear what you feel would be the most important in your view:
1. Manage Expectations Effectively- Don’t over promise and under deliver:
This needs to be established from the outset. Although this can often see you lose out on some business, especially if the client is expecting a Porsche with their budget and you are only able to deliver them a BMW.
Often during a campaign or project you will encounter “bumps in the road” along the way that were not initially known. Realistically you need to ensure they are aware of these bumps when they arise, and not the day before a deadline
The ability to manage a client’s expectations from the outset instils a trust in you professionally and even when clients/contacts move on your reputation means a lot within the Digital marketing so pride yourself on delivering to your targets and keeping a client informed.
- Make sure the client knows what they will get by providing demonstrable examples.
- Know the KPI’s (key performance indicators) for the client
- Make sure the client understands the limitations around the channel, product, or activity you are running for a client
- Utilise living and breathing status systems (such as trello etc.) so the client has transparent visibility;
- Don’t hide a “bump in the road”
- Know the value of your services and be confident in the costing.
2. Don’t just say what you have done but bring to life why it matters
Often referred to as the “so what” factor when it comes to client servicing as without thinking about it a lot of CS people fall into the trap of spending too much time explaining what was done and not why it matters.
Challenge for you – If you have a piece of analysis or reporting task for a client take a step back once it is completed and if it passes the “so what” question you will gain the ultimate level of respect from the client.
Clients use agencies in the digital space to gain access to expertise and ultimately, solutions to address their business and personal objectives. You are a facilitator for achieving this so if you want to avoid the question “so what” make sure you ask it of the work you provide to your clients.
3. Respond swiftly and be there when you are needed
A client will inadvertently measure you on your ability to respond to their needs in a swift manner. When they need you – are you there? A client service professional has a mobile for a reason and a client’s expectations are that you are an extension of their team and contactable at any time.
You don’t always need to have all the answers instantly so don’t rush into a response. The fact that you are there and able to listen to their needs and ultimately meet their needs is ultimately one of the key factors within any strong “long term” relationship.
This ultimately is a sign of being reliable which amongst various client studies scores highly on the key requirements of an agency. Reliability is all about consistency – the people you put on your team, the frequency of your communication, and lastly, the quality of your delivery.
4. Add value through performance, but don’t press the wrong buttons…
When you perform well for a client this will open more doors than taking a crowbar to a client’s wider issues and continually selling to them aggressively.
At the beginning of any relationship it is about proving yourself and your business in the areas they have employed you for. The importance of this never really waivers for a long term client either but starting off on the right footing is key early on.
It is very easy to fall into the trap of recognising a wider issue with a client and immediately looking to sell a solution. Don’t jump in with both feet as in many cases you will not be thanked. Ultimately the client makes the decision and you should focus on trying to understand the reasons before you present a solution.
Focus (as always) on adding value to ensure you deliver high quality work and the client will invite you into other areas and the opportunity to deliver wider solutions.
5) It is not all about what you did well…
Although preparation is key you will never run a campaign that doesn’t experiences unforeseen issues or challenges. It is all about how you deal with these issues and challenges in the eyes of the client.
It relates a lot to managing client expectations, as you need to ensure these issues are raised in a timely manner, placed into context, and brought with a solution or a selection or possible solutions.
The client needs to be involved as they will not thank you for failing to inform them or implementing an incorrect solution. The respect and value doesn’t necessarily come from a suitable solution but merely the way you have communicated the issue, solutions, and the SWOT surrounding each solution.
Client service is often seen as a very difficult and manic career path however it most certainly isn’t about answering clients (when they ask you to jump) responding with – “how high?”
Good client servicing is based on being aware of the above basic principles with a focus on building trusted relationships that last.