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5 Facets of Excellent Client Service
Excellent client service goes hand in hand with a successful agency.
There is little value in winning new clients if they churn away quickly because your account servicing is lousy. Yet, there is a mountain of advice on business development. Not so much on excellent client service.
How do you achieve excellent client service then?
Here are the key ingredients of excellent client service I have picked up over the years. Maybe you could instil some of this thinking into your client servicing to drive up customer happiness.
1. Put yourself in your clients’ shoes.
In client services, your goal is to understand your clients’ needs and wants and to service them profitably. We can only succeed in this if we learn to look at the challenges they face from their perspective.
Much of my career has been in agency-side marketing. More recently, I have spent time working on the client-side, and I noticed this is something easily forgotten by agencies. Yes, you must make a profit, but don’t forget to consider your clients’ perspectives too:
- What are their business priorities?
- What motivates them to get out of bed in the morning?
- What are their personal goals?
- What is the environment in which they operate?
- How does it all feel to them?
Getting a solid understanding of your clients’ situations will lead to trust, which in turn is conducive to a healthy relationship. More on trust later.
The ability to step into your clients’ shoes enables you to open your eyes to new perspectives and also to possible solutions to your clients’ marketing challenges. Guess what – this leads to account growth and greater profitability; good old fashioned account farming.
2. Begin by asking questions
To give good advice, you must be able to develop a deep understanding of your clients’ challenges. The ability to ask questions, listen and interpret is the basis for giving good advice.
The quality of your questions determines the quality of the answers. And the right questions also help clients to see their goals more clearly.
Learn to ask questions that open up the client’s brief, their mandate and also their personal goals (read point 1 again). Right-minded questions do not lead your clients to the answer you have already formulated.
3. Be a great listener
The adage that we are born with two ears and one mouth and you should use them in proportion applies perfectly to client service.
We must have the confidence to listen and take direction, as well as provide consultancy – and not forgetting about asking great questions (see point 2).
Are you a good listener, or do you prefer to force your ideas and opinions on to every challenge? Are you open to what others have to say? Even if it goes against your views and beliefs?
Next time you are in a meeting, take the time to observe how you behave. Make a few notes. What type of listener are you? Do you always have to dominate the conversation, are you a lurker? Maybe you sit somewhere in the middle.
To be a good listener, you must be able to immerse yourself in the world of your clients and interpret what is said in the context of those saying it (see point 1).
Good listeners do not judge. They use feedback as a starting point for defining a solution. They take time to absorb what they see, hear and feel. Only then do good listeners interpret, reply, and advise.
4. Be solution-oriented
There are times in client service when you will have to be a problem solver. I used to run a lot of events for big tech companies. I was once asked what I did and instinctively answered, “I’m a problem solver”.
It sounds odd without context, but it felt like that was what I did – I took my client’s event marketing challenges and presented them with solutions.
Sure, I can find a new venue in London for your 350 person event next week. Why not? But have you considered it might be better to extend the event’s capacity with an online format instead?
In client services, you must take your clients and their mandates seriously. Ask, listen, develop a point of view, advise and add value to their decision making.
And then we take action by presenting a solution. To get your clients the results they need, focus on the results. Be a problem solver and your clients will love you for it.
5. Learn to collaborate well
Collaboration means working within a team to meet the goals and objectives of your clients AND your agency.
What does this mean? Think beyond the trite ‘we like to work as partners with all our clients’. By the way, if this is one of your key messages, your positioning needs some love.
Collaboration is about ensuring your clients understand your needs and objectives, just as much as you know theirs. It’s about working to improve communications with your clients but also with your service delivery teams. These probably include suppliers outside of your direct control, but who you rely on to deliver excellent service.
Good collaboration requires trust too. Work to establish trust in your network so everyone can work together to deliver excellent client service and get results.
So, there you have it, my five facets of excellent client service.