The head of operations at a digital marketing agency recently asked me how to handle clients who have a committee-based decisionmaking process that delay the project and waste the agency’s time. As we were discussing how to find the best PM software for marketing agencies, she asked:
I think our most frustrating issue is the feedback process. We have a client who has 10 or more people commenting on the project and asking for changes. I really would like one document or tool that would take all that feedback and be able to categorize it and reflect back to the client that based on their feedback we are going to do x,y,z and is that correct and please signoff.
I’ve been there—I know how frustrating that is! It’s important to recognize that “too many cooks in the kitchen” is a people problem, not a software problem. The core issue here is that her agency is getting sucked into the client’s dysfunctional internal decision-making processes, and the agency’s getting half-baked feedback.
Why making your client reconcile their team’s feedback first is vital for your agency
The “too many cooks” problem ultimately requires a marketing agency client service solution, around expectations management—have your client reconcile their team’s feedback first, before sharing the consolidated feedback with you.
Your client needs to sort out their dysfunction before it hits your PM software. That way, you only have to act on a single set of instructions, rather than having to figure out how to merge often-conflicting feedback.
Some digital marketing agencies want to avoid having this conversation with clients up front. That’s understandable, but avoiding it is a bad idea. Why should you make the effort to require clients to consolidate feedback? This does three things for you.
First, it saves billable time (for you and the client), by your not having to review and cross-check documents.
Second, it makes the client responsible for a significant share of duration (elapsed project timeline), because they have to deal with the pain of reconciling things. They also are better situated to decide who “wins” when there’s conflicting feedback… or when they can’t decide, they’ll be able to reach the decisionmaker(s) faster (as an employee) than your agency can (as a third party).
Third, it preserves your sanity. No one likes having to reconcile things that the client should be handling themselves.