Client relationships are extremely important for agencies to master. The experience you provide for them often determines how smooth the project completion is. Not only that, but how clients feel about your service stand to greatly impact your reputation with future customers.

That’s not to say that agencies are solely responsible for managing the client. Clients also have a duty to be clear in what they expect so that there can be no miscommunication going forward. They also have to abide by the boundaries you set before work on the project moves too far into an undesirable direction.

As an agency, you have the power to set standards for the clients you choose to work with. In order to help your business, we’ve compiled the top 12 ways to manage your clients straight from experts in the field.

Once you fully incorporate these tools into your repertoire, we guarantee you’ll see a dramatic increase in both the quality of your work and the relationships with your clients!

Let’s get started!

1. Communicate over and over and over…

“This is the single most important point on this list. Why? Because how we present information is always subject to interpretation and people absorb it in all sorts of different ways. Some contextually from a situation, others verbally. Some need it drawn out on a whiteboard and others need to take their time with a cup of coffee and an email.

In order to eliminate that grey area of understanding, deploy a combination (I’d even recommend using all) forms of communication and deliver it in the simplest way possible. Be a broken record. It might seem annoying, but it’s the bridge between expectations and assumptions.”Ryan Daniels

2. Have a clear project scope with sign-off — and set priorities.

“Making sure that you have a very clear scope when starting a project is essential, as people will always try to creep things into the scope.”  – Richard Bexon, quoted by Jennifer Schiff

3. Be upfront about your experience and capabilities.

“A client’s main concerns will be your skills and knowledge—are you the right one to help with this work? Most likely, you will be presented with an opportunity to introduce yourself and give a little background, and this is a chance to address these experiences up front. Remember: You were chosen to work with this client for a reason, so don’t be afraid to show off what you’ve got.”Ashley Colbert

4. Include your clients on what you do.

“Make SEO “interactive” by including them. There are plenty of simple steps that your client can participate in, like putting snippets of code into their website, giving you a piece of copy that they wrote, or being active on Facebook, and more.

This also makes your client take some responsibility for the results as well. You’re working together in a kind of partnership, where the success of what you’re doing can only happen if you’re both equally invested in the outcome and work towards achieving results.”Damian Thompson

5. Ask more questions.

“Sales and cross-selling today are all about asking the right questions to pinpoint someone’s need or pain… Instead of assuming what they need and talking all about your services, spend most of your conversations listening to what is happening in their lives or businesses or what they are seeing as trends that will affect them. Encourage them to share what keeps them up at night. This focus on their needs will build trust.” – Howard Rosen, quoted by Deanna White

6. Present new opportunities.

“This shows clients we’re forward thinking about the future direction of accounts. Avoid the pitfall of being reactive and waiting for clients to give permission to try something new. Bring the recommendation to them. The worst a client can say is no.”Jeff Baum

7. Set a well-documented and communicated project schedule.

“Before you start, make sure deadlines are set for each deliverable and ensure each person the action falls knows about it! Uploading this in an easily readable format – such as in a colour-coded table, to an online area (dropbox, google drive etc) where all stakeholders can view it, allows those that have missed a meeting or need a reminder – to go in and check for themselves without having to ask you.”Nadine Schofield

8. Be transparent and over-explain.

“Relaxed people are easier to negotiate with, so it’s important to cultivate your client’s trust and peace of mind. For most clients, becoming embroiled in a legal dispute is like being led onto a battlefield blindfolded. This often means consistently elevated stress levels and a defensive demeanour, which requires disarming.

A major source of anxiety is simply the unknown. Provide genuine reassurance and take the time to make sure they thoroughly understand […] what is involved.”Stacey Leeke

9. Cut clients when necessary.

“Just because you’ve agreed to work with a client doesn’t mean you have to stick with them through thick and thin. Obviously it’s important to try your best – not just for the sake of the client, but also for your business relationship.

But sometimes things just don’t work out. And part of running a business is understanding when to let go.”Kate Toon

10. Understand your role in the relationship.

“You’re the expert. Your client hired you because you know what you’re doing, so if something feels wrong, speak up. Of course, always be respectful, polite, and professional, but don’t be afraid to say something if your client makes a suggestion that will hurt their brand image.”Hannah Volz

11. Focus on the three A’s.

“In each case, there are three things that happen when we mess something up with a client.

  • Acknowledgment – We take ownership of it and never make excuses for why it happened. Instead, we very honestly explain  the circumstances led up to the situation.
  • Apology – We express our apologies for the incident, and describe what our company is doing to ensure it doesn’t happen again – or at least minimize the possibility.
  • Amends – Before we contact the client, we either determine what we’ll do to rectify the situation and offer options to the client, ask if there is something the specific the client would like us to do, or we have already done was is needed (as in the case of the upgrade).”

Stacey Kildal

12. Make sure all parties are involved.

“Usually there are different agencies and people coming together to work on a project. Getting all the people involved around the table at the start of a project can be difficult but is essential for a good project brief. It’s important that agreed business goals are reached between agencies at the early stages of the project, and that all the potential challenges have been discussed. If not all parties or people are participating then you run the risk of a high degree of unpredictability.”Rachel Brompton

Managing your clients in the proper way will eliminate headaches and problems that were sure to arrive further down the line. These tips will certainly make both you and your clients much more likely to reach success.