Building lasting, positive relationships with your clients is key to any marketing agency’s success. Gaining trust for long term contracts, and winning repeat business is key to having a steady income and being able to grow and scale successfully.
But client churn is all too common in agency life, often leaving smaller agencies scrambling to fill the gaps.
It doesn’t have to be that way though. We’ve asked some of our clients what they believe makes for a great agency/client relationship, and there were a range of fantastic answers:
- Clients don’t have all the answers – work with them to define the right goals and metrics
- Have regular touchpoint meetings – and schedule these in advance, with plenty of notice
- Help your clients to see every win and every success
- Give your clients the tools to produce some of their own successful work
But there were certain answers that came up time and time again. These three cornerstones of good practice were given by almost everyone we spoke to, showing that sometimes, it’s just getting the basics right that can make all the difference.
Communication (especially when things aren’t going to plan)
Things go wrong. It happens all the time. An unexpected absence affects a project deadline, a campaign doesn’t perform as well as expected, someone mistakenly overspends on an ad.
What’s important is to make sure that communication is consistent, clear and honest, both internally and with your client. Keeping everyone in the loop about changes that have occurred, deadlines that might have shifted or adjustments to the plan can make sure that there are no nasty surprises down the line, when it’s too late.
Employee churn is a regular issue with agencies, many of whom experience high turnover. Many don’t realise it, but solving this problem is one of the best ways to improve client satisfaction. Clients want to build strong, trusting relationships with their agency, which becomes difficult if their point of contact is changing every quarter.
Making sure that your clients can, wherever possible, keep the same specialist for the length of the project (unless they ask otherwise, of course!), can be a quick win in keeping them content. This means hiring the right people and keeping them around. That doesn’t always mean hiring the most qualified people – finding people who are passionate about your company and the brands you work with is often more valuable to retention than a degree.
Your clients expect seamless service. That means delivering on your promises. To do this, it’s just as important to have clear processes as it is to have great ideas. From making sure everyone is aware of the onboarding process, so clients have a fantastic first impression, through to proper handovers when an account manager is on holiday.
Clear and consistent processes that the whole team understand, and follow can give clients peace of mind, and help to make sure nothing gets missed. The whole team benefits from simpler, more open workflows, and clients benefit from a more cohesive team and a clearer path to their goals.
Of course, there will always be clients who are with you for a short term project, but making sure their experience is seamless, professional and successful will make it far more likely that they’ll return to you for future projects, without you having to do lots of Business Development to win the work.
Ultimately, finding a new agency is a pain. Your happy customers will put off going out to tender for a new supplier for as long as they’re happy. Get these basics right, and you won’t give them a reason to look elsewhere!