Depending on which industry you’re in, landing a new client can cost anywhere from five to 25 times more than keeping an existing one. It’s no surprise, then, that keeping your customers happy is key to business success, which for agencies means mastering the skill of client management.
Client management is the art of looking after your customers’ needs – of knowing what they want and when they want it (even before they do). Client management means working through your customers’ problems and helping them reach their goals, building connections rather than transactions to create long-term, meaningful relationships that benefit you, your team, and your clients.
Don’t worry if that sounds like a big ask, we’re going to break down the best strategies for effective client management at your agency, along with some must-have tools and best practices you can implement today. But first, let’s take a deeper dive into why client management is so important for an agency.
The Benefits of Effective Client Management
Good client management comes down to understanding your customer, meeting their needs, and having strong personal communication. All of this builds trust, which ultimately leads to long-lasting relationships.
These, in turn, enable you to deliver a better service to your client, which boosts their satisfaction and increases the chances of you retaining them as a customer. And according to a paper by Bain & Company, “a 5% increase in customer retention produces more than a 25% increase in profit.” This is thanks to return customers often purchasing more over time while the operating costs to serve them fall. Additionally, if a relationship is good, people won’t leave it – why switch to an unfamiliar competitor when you like what you’re getting?
What’s more, effective client management can help attract new customers through the power of referrals, which bring in warm leads at little to no cost, compared with other tactics. When you build relationships with your clients through client management, they are significantly more likely to suggest your agency to friends and business associates, which means new clients, a growing business, and a better bottom line.
Relationships go both ways, and it’s not only customers who benefit from the connections nurtured by effective client management – your team will profit too. Long-term relationships built on solid communication and genuine customer care will offer your agency team more meaning and a higher sense of satisfaction than a one-and-done approach. This means improved morale, productivity, and work environment for everyone.
Strategies for Effective Client Management
With all the benefits of quality client management in mind, how do you implement it at your agency?
First, focus on customer communication; clear, personal interactions are vital at every stage of your relationship with a client. Use the channels that suit their needs and tailor your tone and mediums to reflect how they want to communicate. If your client likes to chat on the phone, call them. If they do everything over email, write them an email. Bottom line – meet them where they’re at.
At the start of your relationship with a customer, clearly set out what they can expect from your agency and what you expect in return. Transparency builds trust, with clear expectations fundamental to long-term collaborations.
Next, make sure to deliver on those expectations! Provide high-quality work within the deadlines you and your client have set. At the end of the day, your agency’s work is the bedrock of your client relationship, and all the friendly emails in the world won’t help if you don’t deliver.
At the same time, your customer support must be head and shoulders above the rest. Consider each client individually and tailor your service approach – some clients might be anxious and need regular check-ins, while others could benefit from stepping away from the details. Figure out what works for them.
Operating in this way will also help you anticipate the future needs of your clients, giving you the time and forethought to prepare for them. Ideally, you’ll have solutions before a client even comes to you with a concern, resulting in a proactive approach to customer care, which builds trust, relationships, and your business.
Tools for Effective Client Management
Steve Jobs once said that “You cannot mandate productivity, you must provide the tools to let people become their best,” and nowhere is this truer than in effective client management.
If you gather together your agency to declare the need for strong client relationships, you’ll end up with a sea of confused faces rather than a resounding cheer. Why? Because your team is already doing their best to create lasting connections with clients – it’s just what humans do. However, these efforts will be mediocre at best without the right resources.
You need to give your team the tools to go from mediocre to experts in agency client management.
One of the most important tools you’ll need for effective client management is Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. This lets you track your client connections and deal with them as individuals rather than as an amorphous customer base. Good CRM software will allow you manage customer engagement across several communication channels, organized by person rather than topic or thread.
In addition to CRM tools, you also need a way to manage client projects at your agency. This will enable you to deliver work on time and to the best standard possible, which, as mentioned earlier, is fundamental to keeping customer relationships positive.
All the best relationships are collaborative, so provide your team with channels and platforms to work with clients and colleagues in person and remotely. Some of the most popular options are digital whiteboards and collaborative notes, where clients, colleagues, and external contributors can work together with text, images, videos, and more in real-time.
Finally, give your team the means to talk like people, which in the digital era means a team chat tool. So much business is done via chat that an email with a header, signature, and formal formatting can sometimes feel impersonal – the last thing you want for better client engagement.
Best Practices for Client Management in Agency Work
To ensure the most effective client management possible, there are a few best practices that you and your agency can follow.
First, assign dedicated client managers or account executives. The core of good client management is personal relationships, and there’s no way you can achieve this if you take a “first-come, first-served” approach to customer service. Invest in the people you need to manage your client connections.
Next, develop a robust client onboarding process that includes:
An exploration of their expectations and needs
An outline of the communication channels they want to use and the ones you offer
How to use these communication channels to request and receive work
Expected updates and timelines
Training for collaborative tools
Any other questions the client has
Once you’re actively working with the client, make sure to have regular check-ins where you update them with the status of the work. And, if they reach out in between these updates with any inquiries or feedback, you should respond promptly and professionally every single time.
A good way to gauge how the progress of your client management is to conduct satisfaction surveys and use this feedback to improve over time. However, beware not to spam or overwhelm customers with requests that only benefit you – consider if you can offer them something in return as well as the time and method of the request.
Case Studies: How Effective Client Management Boosted Business Growth
Businesses worldwide have grown thanks to effective client management, but you don’t have to take it from us. Max Shcherbakov, co-founder and CEO of Hooligans creative agency, uses Spike to manage his client relationships, with Spike Groups offering “improved workflow between our teams and across our clients” thanks to a “collaborative workspace that didn’t require logins.” Shcherbakov also notes another valuable feature for managing relationships: Spikes read receipts. For him, this means knowing how a project is progressing, but it’s also fantastic to know if, when, and how to communicate with a client.
Similarly, Jozsef Juhasz, a web designer and developer, has to manage numerous client relationships with the many local businesses he works with. “I tried to introduce other group communication apps and collaboration tools, but however easy they were to use, sooner or later, clients reverted to their inbox,” says Juhasz. But knowing the importance of using channels a client is comfortable with, Juhasz leveraged Spike’s Conversational Email to “let [his] clients live in their inbox while [he] transparently keep[s] all communication one click away, including all files [they] ever exchanged.”
From Mediocre to Master: Put Your New Skills into Practice
Mastering client engagement is crucial for building a successful agency, and when you nail it, you’ll benefit from the following:
Increased trust and long-lasting relationships
The ability to provide a better service
Increased customer satisfaction and retention
Referrals from satisfied clients, for new customers at little cost
Improved team morale, productivity, and work environment
A growing business and a better bottom line!
With the tools, tips and best practice provided above, there’s nothing stopping you from mastering the art of effective customer management, so go out and build your agency today!
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