Here’s a fact: if a client feels like they’re not getting the support they need to drive growth, they’ll look for it elsewhere. It’s unpleasant to think about, but it’s true – and for an agency, a client breakup is bad news.

The stats say it all: According to Hubspot, it’s five to twenty-five times more expensive to acquire a new client than to retain one. So how do you build a positive and productive client relationship that lasts?

As my mother always says, “When it comes to relationships, it’s all about the basics”. So what do successful relationships have in common? Trust, communication and attention. Like any relationship, the client-agency dynamic relies on these three things to thrive – and to get there, you’ll need a genuine understanding of:

  • Your client’s needs
  • Your client’s goals
  • How your client operates

In a saturated agency market, it’s crucial to take the time to learn about your clients’ customers and their online behaviour. At Yoghurt Digital, we balance those insights with strategic thinking and technical innovation to help our clients meet their objectives. We offer our clients the wide and varied experience of a big agency, with the customised care and hustle of a small agency – and it’s proven to be a winning combination. With that in mind, here are our top five strategies for managing client relationships effectively:

1. Make Sure You’re On The Same Page

For the client-agency relationship to work, you need to agree on expectations from day one. By doing this, you’ll be on the path to growth and progression, while minimising those dreaded back-and-forth email chains littered with passive aggressive “as per my last email” comments.

At the beginning of a project, establish clear goals (and don’t be afraid to ask questions to eliminate ambiguity), set realistic timelines, and figure out a way to keep both the client and your internal team accountable for their deliverables. Transparency is one of the keys to a successful client relationship, and these steps are essential to instil trust.

The same principle applies to the actual deliverables. The account management team should manage expectations for both the client and agency teams so that the project hums along smoothly. Of course, we’re all only human – sometimes unexpected tasks fall onto our plates, which means we have to briefly adjust course. But as long as expectations are managed on both sides, you’ll be able to reprioritise and plan to make sure the objectives are met and everyone stays happy.

2. To Be Honest, Just Be Honest

Transparency and accountability are the building blocks of a positive relationship – and a positive reputation in the industry. To create strong, lasting relationships with clients, subscribe to the idea that ‘honesty is the best policy’. Be open when it comes to your professional opinions, and always justify your point of view with research, statistics and expertise. It’s tempting to always agree with the client to avoid uncomfortable confrontations, but in some cases, you may be doing them a disservice. Use your judgement!

On that note, know that mistakes happen. Rather than trying to cover them up or make excuses, it’s better to be upfront about them. The client may be frustrated at first, but they’ll ultimately respect you for going to them with an apology and a solution.

Finally, you can’t expect every member of your team to know everything. If the client throws you a curveball or a question you don’t know the answer to, there’s no shame in saying you’ll get back to them after consulting the right people internally. That’s precisely why, at Yoghurt, we have a team of specialists in their field.

3. Focus On Being Mutually Beneficial

As the saying goes, it takes two to tango! In any relationship, both parties need to invest time into understanding each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and what makes them tick in order for the relationship to deepen and strengthen. From a client’s perspective, if they don’t understand the agency’s methodology and processes, they may feel left out and disconnected from the development and implementation of the strategy.

At Yoghurt, we see our unique position as industry experts as an opportunity to facilitate a real learning experience for the client. We share information that will help our clients understand why we’re doing what we’re doing, helping to build trust and confidence in the process. Sometimes, this process involves setting small deliverables for the client to work through so there’s accountability and a sense of accomplishment on both ends.

4. It Pays To Pick Up The Phone

In today’s business landscape, email is king. Yet emails can – and often are – misinterpreted, especially in stressful situations. It’s hard to understand intonation or intention via email. Were they serious? Were they joking? Are they being rude and sarcastic? Or were they just in a rush?

The phone often gets a bad rap, with many people believing that it’s only used to deliver bad news. But if you can use the phone effectively, you’ll be well on your way to having a better relationship with your client. Think about it… Would you rather communicate a huge win with an upbeat phone call, or an email? Would you rather send 10 back-and-forth emails, or brainstorm over a quick, 5-minute chat?

Phone calls add a personal touch, and they can get questions answered much faster. Of course, take your client’s lead. Some clients may prefer phone calls, and others may only want to take calls at certain times of the day, so don’t be afraid to ask them for guidance.

Schedule in some face-to-face time every now and then, too. While your relationship with your client is of a professional nature, acknowledging that you see them as a person can go a long way to building a stronger rapport.

5. Don’t Be A Stranger – Check In Regularly

Remember when we said that relationships require attention? This is what we mean. Your agency team is not only responsible for delivering good work on time, but also need to make sure the client is happy. They need to address their pain points as soon as possible, find ways to help them achieve their goals, and inspire them to reach even further.

If something doesn’t go as planned, focus on addressing it and assuring your client it won’t happen again. No matter the size of your client’s company, it’s worth checking in regularly to see how they’re feeling and whether they have any questions.

It’s also important to trust your gut. If you suspect a project isn’t running as smoothly as it should be, you’re probably right. If you can get in front of a potential problem before it snowballs, you may be able to avoid it altogether.

Finally, when you’re bringing an issue to a client’s attention, always present a solution or game-plan alongside it. This will demonstrate that you’re proactive, that you truly care about the relationship and are committed to being a problem-solver for their business.

Interested In Partnering With An Agency That Gets You?

In the digital marketing landscape, the best work is the product of solid partnerships. At Yoghurt, every department plays an important role. Our client management team is in regular communication with our clients to make sure that every strategy, campaign and project is executed effectively. It’s a collaborative effort, and over the years we’ve found that clients are more invested when they’re involved in the process.

If you’d like to learn more about working with Yoghurt and the team, get in touch with us today!