I was talking with a friend recently. We were having a drink and talking about digital marketing, clients and life in general when he said that he thought his work spoke for itself in keeping his clients satisfied.
I disagreed. Big time.
There are so many elements which keep a client satisfied. Great work is just one of them, but to be honest, only a small one.
I've been in client facing digital marketing roles for 6+ years now, and I will hold my hands up and say I don't know it all by a long way, there are definitely a few key elements you can do beyond your great work to keep your clients satisfied. Here they are:
Be interested. Be interesting
The old adage that people buy from people is still so true. Make the time to actually get to know your clients. Their likes and dislikes, what their kids are up to, what they have planned for the weekend. Did they see that YouTube video?
When a client phones me I will genuinely try to talk to them about anything BUT marketing for the first few minutes. This isn't some insincere attempt to sniff out another sale, but a meaningful way of getting to know someone. Things we've discussed:
- The best ever biscuits
- Whether Justin Bieber is really good office music
- The merits of Gerry Anderson's 'Thunderbirds'
- Gluten Intolerances
Likewise, tell them about yourself if you client is interested. It's not for everyone, but if it's right I regularly keep people updated with what's going on in my world.
Although there's a communication process, sometimes clients just need you. In my mind it doesn't matter if it's major (i.e their website's fallen over) or minor (they've forgotten what their Facebook login is), if they contact me then it's important to them.
If time is of the essence I try to respond in minutes, not hours and normally over the phone. That way they can see someone is on the case. But there's limits. Meetings and general out of the office activities mean there are times when I can't solve their problems, but I'll at least communicate to them when I can help them (or if there's someone else on hand who can help).
Set their expectations at the very beginning for how, and how often you communicate. Otherwise, you'll leave people expecting things you can't deliver. Keeps retention and makes life working with one another more enjoyable.
I don't know everything about a lot of things, but if I don't know I'll say.
Providing a woolly answer or downright lying causes problems down the line by knocking your credibility.
I think clients appreciate that we can't know everything all the time. But you know what? We'll look into it, call in other people and fill in the knowledge gaps to help out.
show your working
An explanation for a piece of work should always be given when work gets delivered. Explaining the thinking, the process, the very actions that you went through to deliver what you've done genuinely helps to keep clients happy.
Clients can see the sheer effort you've put in which is good, but it also shows someone you've gone through a sound process in coming to your decisions. Why have you picked those keywords? Why did you do a blog post on that item?
Think about how you communicate this to. A few lines in an email might not cut it. Schedule time to talk through a piece of work on the phone, or even better have a face to face catch up which can often tease questions from clients which wouldn't have been asked previously.
don't let them know about one another
This I think might be the controversial one - I keep quiet about my other clients when I'm with a client.
Cheesy as it may sound I want them to feel like I'm their only there for them. They have my undivided time and attention and want me. Not me for a few hours, whilst I'm thinly spread juggling the accounts of all these 'other' people.
Now, don't get me wrong, if there's a business reason 2 clients should talk, or we've done something particularly relevant with 1 client that that's worth showing to another, then the clients are mentioned. But I will never say 'oh, sorry I can't make that meeting because I'm seeing X' or 'I can only get this over to you on Friday because I'm working on a big presentation for Y'.
Make your clients feel like they're the only people who have you and your time.
Some clients are just quicker at getting it than others. It's our job to educate them as well as communicate. But have patience and empathy that your client has their own pressures / demands / clients / kids to all deal with.
If they don't respond don't get mad. If they need an extra 5 minutes to run through an example make the time. At the start of a new retainer with a client, their boss wanted change after change for an email campaign. It resulted in 15 calls over 90 minutes going back and forth. It wasn't the most fun I've ever had, but it showed them what kind of agency Optix is and put the relationship in a damn good position and over 18 months later we are still working together.
Do you think you'd last as long if you didn't have any of these but still produced great work?