In our last blog, http://clientadvocates.co.uk/top-5-feedback-trends-client-advocacy/, we talked about the top 5 pieces of feedback gleaned from our client advocacy work with agencies’ key accounts. We now turn to the most effective measures that an agency can take to respond to this feedback and build better client relationships.
Having helped agencies respond to their key clients comments and then assessed the success of these actions 3 to 6 months down the line, the following are the most highly effective means to create closer, more commercially valuable relationships:
1) Focus your proposition – Decide what you want to be famous for, and then go for it. Build the narrative around what you do and how it helps your clients and then don’t be distracted. Clients appreciate clarity and focus. They don’t want agencies that offer too broad a range of services – they don’t believe it if an agency says it can do it all. Make sure all your communication and interaction with your key-clients focuses in on what you are best at.
2) Segment your clients – both attitudinally and behaviourally. What is their personal style? What is their organisational style? Do they like lots of detail or are they looking for something more macro? Are they ex-agency, or have they always been client-side? What is the size of their budget? Do they treat agencies as strategic partners or transactional suppliers? By building a profile of your clients and then adapting your communications and interactions with them accordingly, you can build rapport and also determine who you need to work harder to support, and who is OK with a lighter touch.
3) Account Plan and activate – if you don’t have a regular process for reviewing and actioning activity around your key client relationships then you don’t deserve to have strong relationships with them – it’s as simple as that. Involve all members of the account team, share ideas and best practice across accounts and most of all, hold individuals to account for carrying out actions in a timely fashion – be it sending out an interesting and relevant article to arranging a workshop to share your latest thinking on what you are famous for. And then repeat!
4) Communicate and be resilient – your account teams need to be really comfortable being proactive in their interactions with key accounts and resilient in the face of no or limited response (clients are busy too!):
- On live projects, build in regular updates and tell them what is going well and also what is not – and how you are mitigating the risks or issues. Be upfront about implications and make sure they understand the trade-off between price, quality and time.
- In-between projects, send them relevant and interesting material, follow-up on proposals, find out how the roll-out of your work on previous projects is going, ask questions about their business, their sector and their competitors.
5) Invest in your people – Clients want account teams that are confident, knowledgeable, inquisitive and creative. And this means that agencies need to invest in their people to help them be these things. Provide opportunities to broaden experience or technical knowledge with courses or qualifications. Set up work-placements to clients. Invest in mentoring and coaching. Encourage networking. Equip all your people to be comfortable interacting with clients.
If you’d like any more information on how we conduct client advocacy and use client feedback to help your business grow and be more profitable, please contact Paul Griffiths on 07711344074.