At Relevance, we pride ourselves on having worked with a number of leading luxury brands for over a decade. We are extremely proud of the fact that we seem to have found the winning formula for how to keep clients happy, and delighted to have built up such an incredible repertoire of business relationships.
So how have we achieved it, and what do we know about how to keep clients happy? Below is my ten point first-hand guide to keeping a client on your side for more than a decade.
Be transparent in all your communications. Instead of overloading your clients with niche terminology that can be confusing, stick to layman’s terms and avoid ambiguity wherever possible. Your clients will thank you, and it will create an open channel of communication that makes them more likely to share their thoughts with you in turn.
Things don’t always go your way, and mistakes happen occasionally – you’re only human. Be honest and make sure you admit to your mistakes as soon as possible. Then provide solutions. But do not, whatever you do, provide solutions unless you are sure that they will work. Better still, seek advice and come back with the answer when you’re sure.
3. In-house assistance
We encourage all our staff to visit a client’s office, or shipyard, or factory – whatever their industry – so that they can immerse themselves in the client’s company ethos and environment. This is particularly important for our account management team, who can then better understand exactly what it is that their clients are looking for and help convey this to our specialists.
4. Manage expectations
It is very important – right from the initial meetings, and long before you have even signed the contract between agency and client – to manage expectations and make sure that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet. Remember: you are being employed with an end goal in mind, not to perform unspecified miracles.
5. Make sure all stakeholders are onboard
You might not have met all the stakeholders, and perhaps only regularly deal with a few direct contacts, but make sure you reach out to everyone nonetheless. Remember that your contacts might not be making all the decisions, so create dashboards for all stakeholders – with their unique KPIs – and keep everyone involved. They will thank you in the end.
6. Full service specialisation & a multi-faceted team
At Relevance, our mutli-faceted team offers a full service to our clients, which we believe attributes to long-term, win-win relationships. We find that different services go hand-in-hand and contribute to the overall success of a marketing strategy. For example, it is often hard to work on SEO if you have no developers, or implement a successful social media plan if you don’t have any content capabilities. We find having specialists in all areas helps us to succeed, even if the client has not asked us to work in some fields. We pride ourselves on our multilingual, multi-discipline team, with everyone playing their part in the retention of clients.
7. Flexible financing
When it comes to finances it helps to be flexible when providing payment options, and to have a brilliant financial manager leading discussions who knows how to be firm but fair. Invoicing is tricky, and some clients will try and push the boundaries to help their own cash flow. The secret to success here is knowing that you need to manage your cash flow too, and so staying in control. Offer flexibility to help clients out in their payments when you can, but know when you have to say no.
8. Solid contracts
Start from a position of strength. Take your time drawing up contracts at the start with a legal specialist, which we then advise you to go through with a fine-tooth comb to make sure that everyone is clear on the terms. Ensure that the client completely understands and is happy with the contract before they sign, to avoid any future misunderstanding.
9. Be proactive
Taking a proactive approach, rather than a reactive approach, is a great way to keep a client happy. At Relevance we aim to stay ahead of the curve and work hand-in-hand with our clients to take action and drive change. Our account managers and specialists constantly brainstorm new ways to help bolster our client’s digital marketing strategies, whilst always keeping clients up-to-date on anything that may affect them in the future.
10. Where possible, be their friend too
The final point on my 10 point guide to how to keep a client happy is relevant for any contract between agency and client, whether in marketing or another industry. It pays to be amicable with your clients, and at Relevance we like to do little things to show we care, such as inviting clients to our fantastic Christmas parties each year and putting in time to meet for coffees and lunches. The fact is that most people want to work with people that they like, and with each effort you make to build a relationship you are making your contract more likely to be renewed.