“Secret Sauce” for Client Relationships
The foundation of any good relationship is built on several fundamental values, such as trust, transparency and mutual respect. But there also needs to be that spark, or chemistry, to really make the magic happen. The same holds true for successful agency/client relationships.
Throughout my career, I have worked on numerous account teams and navigated through all types of client relationships. The one common thread among the accounts where we really moved the needle for the client and produced big results were the ones where we had the secret sauce.
Wondering what the ingredients are? Let me share a few with you.
Mutual Respect – This should go without saying, but sadly that is not always the case. The client and the agency team members need to have a mutual respect for one another as well as for their roles and responsibilities on the account. They need to be able to really listen to each other and understand their respective areas of expertise.
Trust – Trust is key. As an extension of the internal team, clients need to be able to trust their agency partner as they would their in-house colleagues. Confidential information must not be shared and deadlines need to be consistently met to establish that trust. They also need to be able to trust that their agency partner has their back and is looking out for issues and opportunities that could affect the business.
Good Rapport – Often during a busy workday it feels like there isn’t much time for chit chat. But sometimes taking those extra few minutes at the end of a call with a client to ask about her weekend or family can make all the difference in the world. You are building a relationship, and while it must always be professional, taking the time to also make it personal can make all the difference in the world.
Honesty – I think we all would agree delivering bad news to a client is never easy, but it is always best to be upfront from the beginning and for the agency contact to alert the client at the first sign of trouble. If a project is going over budget or there are hiccups when planning a big event, pick up the phone and let the client know where things stand. That approach will eliminate any big surprises at the end and will help build the trust I mentioned earlier.
Sometimes it’s effortless, and all of these elements fall into place naturally. Other times the dynamic doesn’t start out as smoothly, and you need to cultivate the relationship. Either way, it’s in everyone’s best interest to put in the extra work to make sure the key ingredients are in the secret sauce. It will pay off in the long run. I promise.