How To: Grow Client Relationships

By Lauren Sleeper Just coming from a productive, multi-agency strategy session with a client, I was able to immediately reflect on what makes our working relationship work, and work so well.  The meeting ended with a better understanding of collective goals, constructive to-do's, and a clear path to how we were going to continue to be thought leaders in their industry.  A few key takeaways from not only my morning meeting, but the better part of my career in account service are really quite simple.  While they may appear elementary, and perhaps even obvious, by making sure I adhere to these standards I am able to produce the best results for my clients, both to my own personal standards and for their business goals: 

1) Be an indispensable partner: As an effective partner, your work should be imperative to the success of the brand's efforts in your area of expertise.  If it's not, the relationship is superfluous.

2) Care about the whole business, not just the social business: Likeable is a social media agency.  However, social media cannot be well executed in a vacuum.  By listening to the overall business and marketing goals, you can build a full-circle marketing plan that includes social, as well as the rest of the marketing activities, to tell a cohesive story.

3) Regularly provide easily digestible reporting on big wins, key learnings, and recommended next steps:  One of the most important contributions to validate your efforts is the ROI.  Reporting should be provided at regular intervals in order to track performance over time, plan for future programs and more importantly be easy  to explain the overall efforts.  My brand contacts are often tasked with explaining to the larger organization what we have done, what we are doing, and what we want to do in the future  my goal is to provide them with the tools to share that story easily.  The results must be able to be consumed by the management and C-Level staff at their brand as quickly and easily as possible.

4) Understand and clearly articulate expectations on both sides:  If there are not clear expectations on each side, no matter what the results are no one will ever be 100% satisfied.  These expectations are obviously set after an in depth discussion of KPIs, goals, and strategy of course. Once the expectations are set, both sides of the relationship will know what the collective group is working towards.  This might seem so obvious, but there are so many times when expectations are muddled and goals are therefore never met.

5) Ask for feedback, provide feedback, and never stop listening: First and foremost, be a good listener.  As an effective partner, you need to be open to feedback and react to it in a constructive way to continue growing as partners.  On the flip-side, don't be scared to provide feedback - both the positives and negatives - to your clients as well.  If you are complacent and do whatever is asked of you, even if you disagree, your results will never be where you want them.

What do you think is the key to maintaining a great relationship with a client?  If you are the "client," what do you value most?  Share with us in the comments!