A strong business is built on relationships. Producing solid work is a given, but it is the people behind the work product, those that manage the process, and the expectations and outcomes that drive the success of a campaign. Keeping a client happy may seem more like the work of a psychologist sometimes, but there are a few sure-fire ways to manage the success of a campaign and thus the relationship.
1. Clear communication: Clear communication between the client and the service provider is paramount from the beginning. It is always better to over-inform a client rather than to under-inform them. Lack of communication can lead to all sorts of misunderstandings and unhappy clients. Follow up every verbal communication with a written note or email that recaps the discussion and actions steps so that there is always documentation.
2. Define the goals, roles, and expectations: A significant factor of clear communication is aligning goals of the project with what the client expects each step of the way, and defining who is responsible for what. A clear plan that clarifies the ideal outcome and action steps to achieving those outcomes should be outlined from the beginning. Thus, expectations are in black and white, objectives are clear, and accountability is assigned.
3. Set milestones: By breaking a project up and setting milestones, you create a roadmap for success by allowing your team to readjust the strategy if necessary. Milestones also allow you to demonstrate to the client that you are on track toward your goals. An informed client is a happier client.
4. Be upfront about incremental costs: After evaluating your project at certain milestones, you may decide a slight change of course is in order. Oftentimes, with a change of course comes a change in price. Be sure to clearly communicate any incremental costs to your client and get approval before proceeding. An unexpected bill can ruin a great relationship.
5. Alignment: Being aligned with your client, in terms of values, can go a long way towards a happy and healthy relationship. When your values are aligned with the organization, clients are more inclined to trust your judgment calls, value the way you look at situations and how you approach challenges.
6. Be responsive and proactive, not reactive: Never react immediately to a client’s feedback. Instead, consider it carefully, weigh the pros and cons and craft a response. Knee-jerk emotional reactions can cause more harm than good. Clients will be happier to know that you have thoroughly thought through an issue and crafted a strategic, action oriented, approach.
7. Follow up: Once a project is completed, follow up with your clients or recap what was successful and what could have been smoother for the next time around. Check in with them at intervals to ensure that the strategy or deliverable is still effective. Excellent customer service is about long-term happiness and success, not just finishing a project on time and on budget.
And if all of that doesn’t work, food is often the fastest way to a clients’ heart…but only as a back up plan!
Consulting with clients image courtesy of Shutterstock