Whenever I’m in the Starbucks near my home, I often take note of a sign it has displayed. I’m paraphrasing, but it says something to the effect of, “If you’re not absolutely satisfied with the beverage we’ve made for you, please let us know and we will gladly remake it until we reach your expectations.” That’s a customer pleasing attitude!
As a vice president in charge of client services at our agency, I’m always thinking about how we can reach and exceed expectations with our own clients. At Carabiner, we’re big on treating our clients as partners and as our top priority. Over the years, I’ve followed a few simple tenets for forging and strengthening these partnerships:
Get to know the client. Our agency begins each new relationship with a kick-off meeting in which we learn more about the company, its products and executives, as well as the objectives they want to achieve. But by getting to know them, I also mean getting to know the best ways to work with them, too. For instance, how does your contact like to receive communications – by email, phone, text? Does he like to be kept constantly up-to-date, or are weekly chats preferred? Is he formal or casual in business matters? Learning these nuances can take some time but it’s worth the effort.
Always treat the client as your most important thing. Clients want to feel like they’re working with people who genuinely care and believe in their success. These days especially, they also want to believe they’re getting the most bang for their PR buck. Returning calls right away, being on time for meetings and turning in reports as scheduled are all small but critical aspects, as is an authentic sincerity that you are working for the client to get them where they want to go. Their priorities should become yours, too, and they should know it.
Ask for and use feedback. “How are we doing?” is a question that should be asked, often. Knowing what is working for your client and what isn’t – and making adjustments accordingly – is vital to relationship longevity. Many clients are quick to let you know if they want something done differently, but others are less direct and may require being asked. The fact that you’re asking them shows a real interest in their satisfaction.
It’s true that client-agency relationships often come down to how well you’re meeting business objectives and the results you achieve. But by working on these smaller aspects, as well, you’ll be creating a more mutually pleasant and beneficial partnership built on trust.
What are some of the top attributes you look for in a business partner? Do you have examples of superior client service to share? Please leave a comment below.