Under promise, over deliver

Under promise, over deliver

We hear a lot about winning new clients in our industry, but what about retaining existing clients? As the old adage has it, it costs less to keep clients than to get new ones.

I have serviced numerous digital client accounts across a variety of industries and verticals over the past five years. Along the way, I have picked up various tips to ensure client happiness, no matter which discipline you’re in.

It all comes down to a handful of key attributes: simplicity, communication, expectation setting, trust and rapport.

1. The phone is your friend. Don’t live in your inbox. Your primary option when dealing with your client should be to ring them. Tone and inflection are lost over email; this can lead to misunderstandings and unnecessary conflict. Look at every phone call as an opportunity to build rapport with your client. Building rapport will open opportunities for you to upsell at a later date.

2. Set realistic expectations. Your client might want to double their investment and halve their cost per acquisition. This is unrealistic. You are the expert in your field and it’s your job to educate the client on what a realistic goal will be for their campaign. If this isn’t done correctly, both you and your client will be in for a hard time.

3. Make your client look like a hero. Do everything you can to make their job easy. If you know that they report their figures every Tuesday afternoon at 3pm, set up an automatic report to be delivered to them by lunchtime on Monday. They won’t have to chase you for the figures and will love you for it. The better you make them look to senior management, the happier your client will be.

4. Reply to all client emails received between 9am and 5:30pm within four hours. Even if the reply is simply setting a time that you will provide a more in-depth response. This lets the client know when you’re going to work on their problem and helps them manage expectations internally.

5. Set achievable deadlines to produce a piece of work and then give yourself extra time. This will cover you for any unforeseen delays and in most cases allow you to deliver work early. If you always under promise over deliver you will be a champion in your client’s eyes.

6. Always tell your clients the truth. If you look like missing a deadline due to reasons outside of your control, call to let the client know as early as possible so they can manage expectations at their end. Ninety-nine per cent of the time the client will understand. Trust is essential if your company is going to retain the client account next time it is up for pitch.

7. Invest in client entertainment. The value of this is often underestimated by management as they see it as “dead money”. Build a business case on how much it costs your company to acquire a new client as this is exactly what they will have to do if your client leaves. It doesn’t have to be a corporate box at the Melbourne Grand Prix; often just a quick lunch or a couple of beers after work will enable you to build more rapport than six months of work-related phone calls.

Following these tips will help you build up a great working relationship with your clients. It will give you the opportunity to present additional products and services from your company and help you retain accounts. This will make your job more interesting and ensure the health of your agency.

Remember, always under promise over deliver.

Tom Sadler is sales and marketing manager at Agency M. 

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