Roundup: Agency client service advice

Roundup: Agency client service advice
Written by: Karl Sakas
Got some challenging clients? Use this advice to make things easier

Improve client relationships at your agency!

11 revisions. That’s how many revisions I made to a specifications document for a client as an agency PM.

89 revisions. That’s the record number of revisions I’ve found in my work—this was for a radio commercial, as shared by an audience member at one of my talks.

You can’t have an agency without clients—and life’s too short to work with clients you don’t like.

So what do you do when client relationships aren’t as great as you’d like? Read this advice to make life easier. I’ve made plenty of mistakes—I’d rather you avoid those mistakes!

Prevent client blowups by creating a Client Onboarding Process for your agency

Want to avoid client service blowups at your digital marketing agency? Tired of having to step in to smooth things over with unhappy clients? It doesn’t have to be that painful. Some client service problems are unavoidable, but in my experience, most can be prevented or minimized if you do a good job managing expectations up front. Do this through a formal Client Onboarding Process—it will help you provide better client results while reducing your own stress as an agency owner or manager. Client onboarding doesn’t have to be super-complicated. It’s really about covering three basic pieces.

Read it here.

Should you have the same person doing PM, client strategy, and account management?

For most agencies, combining PM and client strategy (or PM and account management) is a terrible idea—here’s why. Agency PMs and strategists have conflicting priorities. The strategist’s job is to ensure the project is done on-strategy for the client. The project manager’s job is to get the project done as quickly (and on-budget, and on-scope) as possible. Those priorities are typically at odds with each other.

Read it here.

Client ranking matrix: A free tool to help you decide which clients to grow vs. fire

Tired of toxic clients that keep you from spending time on the clients you love? Here’s a window into the agency consulting process I use to help my clients identify their best (and worst) clients.

Read it here.

Want to improve client retention? Make it happen with these two words

The ideal business strategy fits on a bumper sticker or a T-shirt. Why? Because your team is more likely to follow an easy-to-remember strategy, versus a 20-page plan. If you want to improve client retention at your agency, try this bite-size but extremely powerful business strategy: Warmth & Competence.

Read it here.

Shortcut to increase agency profits: Kill scope creep with these 7 magic words

Unpaid scope creep is one of the biggest threats to your profits, because you feel pressure to say “yes” without evaluating the financial impact of that “yes.” When a client asks for something that’s out of scope (OOS), it’s easy to feel like they’ve put you on the spot. Ask this question to stop scope creep in its tracks.

Read it here.

Creating systems to ensure new requests are both profitable and stress-free

When an old client reappears and wants immediate help, you don’t have to drop everything to do the work. Instead, it’s important to set boundaries about timeline and pricing. Here’s my systems advice on creating a more strategic process for handling requests from past clients—you’ll want to customize this process for your agency.

Read it here.

What your clients REALLY want from you

We all know that companies need to invest in marketing to grow. But most people aren’t enthusiastic about marketing as we are. If they’re the owner of their business, they’ve got a million other priorities. They really just want peace of mind.

Read it here.

Are you making this common client education mistake at your agency?

An agency owner recently asked me, “How much client education should we do?” You need to do as much client education as is necessary. Remember, most of your clients don’t buy digital marketing services every day. It’s about empathy. But be efficient in your empathy.

Read it here.

Decision by committee: What to do when your client has too many cooks in the kitchen

How do you handle clients who have a committee-based decisionmaking process that delay the project and waste the agency’s time? 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.

Read it here.

Why you should be reading “Dental Economics” and “Pizza Today”

Is your agency an expert in your clients’ industries? You should be! Knowing each client’s industry as well as they do—if not better—will help you retain clients longer and upsell them more. Clients want consultants—and agencies are ultimately marketing consulting firms—who understand their circumstances. Find out how to apply this in your business.

Read it here.

Be brave enough to say NO to clients

If you want to grow your digital marketing agency, you’ve got to be willing to say NO to potential clients that are a bad fit. When you spend sales time on a prospect who’s a bad fit from the start, you’re just wasting your time. Any project or retainer you do has an Opportunity Cost—it’s taking resources that could go toward another client, or toward building the agency.

Read it here.

Client expectations management: “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate”

Your clients think your agency is doing a bad job at expectations management. Client-side marketing leaders in Houston reiterated the point at the annual MarketingEDGE conference—it’s a failure to communicate. Here’s what the three clients said, with my paraphrasing of their answers.

Read it here.

No more Content Delays: 7 ways to finally fix the problem at your agency

Content delays frustrate your team, hurt your agency’s profits, throw off your project management schedule, and make your clients unhappy. Read up on the 5 things that cause the problem… and 7 ways you can [profitably] fix things before they cost you time, money, and frustration.

Read it here.

How to say “no” to a client without burning bridges (aka, saying “yes” on your terms)

One of the fastest ways to make your agency go out of business is to say “yes” to every client request—or to let client-mandated timelines drive everything you do—at the cost of agency profitability. No one likes hearing “no,” so we dread doing it, and put it off, or never do it at all. How do you say “no” (or say “yes” on your own terms) without burning bridges?

Read it here.

Think like a personal trainer

Do your clients know what you’re doing for them? Not just the deliverables but the results? Think about when you hire a personal trainer. Personal trainers have two jobs: (1) help you get in better shape, and (2) keep you signing up for more sessions. Just like your agency, the personal trainer is doing both sales and consulting. You risk losing clients if they don’t know what they’re getting. Let’s look at an example.

Read it here.

Question: Which of these articles will make the biggest impact on your agency?

Book Cover: "Work Less, Earn More" by Karl Sakas

Do you dread hearing from certain clients?

Know you need to end some of your client relationships, but you’re worried about revenue? Not sure where to start?

Use our free Client Inventory (aka Client Ranking Matrix) to help you get unstuck—so you can stop working with toxic clients, and focus on the ones you love.