In our industry, maintaining client accounts and the relationships that keep them going are arguably two of the most important aspects of the work we do. The creative output our firm gets to produce happens when we have clients who want our help to make their businesses grow and flourish. As an account manager, there is a commitment I must make to keep my clients content, because happy clients lead to a happy work life.
Build a relationship.
Relationships are one of the building blocks of life, so it comes as no surprise that this is also an important step when engaging clients. People are unique beings and as such, we all work in different ways.
Take time to learn about the things the person you are working with likes, and try to find commonalities and celebrate unique differences. You want to establish a relationship that is built on trust and respect; when you take time to get to know and understand the way your client prefers to work and communicate, you set yourself up for success.
Clients have many things on their daily agendas and the work you do with them is only one part of that. Make the projects you are working on for them as easy to track as possible. Depending on the person, an emailed weekly recap might be helpful to see what was accomplished and what is still outstanding. Some clients like to have in-person status updates each week, where others prefer an as-needed phone call. When you are organized, your client will be grateful and it will make for a much more productive partnership.
I pride myself in being highly responsive to emails and texts my clients send me. My clients are very important people in my work circle, and I want them to know that I have received their inquiry. Sometimes, this means a quick acknowledgement that I have read their request and will get back to them with more details, as I know them. Other times, I want to ask deeper questions so I can start a new project or see if our schedules mesh for a meeting. No matter how my clients reach out to me, I try to respond within one hour.
Everyone has to determine a reasonable response time for themselves, but know that many people start to wonder if their email was received if a day or so goes by without some type of acknowledgement.
Try to be honest with your clients about how long it takes to get a new project in the pipeline or how their delays in responses impact overall deadlines. When you are honest and open about expectations on the front end of discussions, there is less room for disappointment later. Clients and agencies want to achieve goals and meet deadlines, and sometimes the inevitable happens and the plan changes. Open communication and good documentation help ensure all parties are on the same page.
In the end, it all really boils down to communication. Treat your clients how you want to be treated by people you do business with. Email those who prefer to email. Text with others who are always on the go if they rather you do that. When you are adaptable and communicate in the way that is most effective for your client, the ease of doing business with you will be appreciated.
Listen, talk, laugh, strategize, and rally when the time is right, and you are destined to have a healthy and happy relationship with your clients and others.
An organization, no matter how well designed, is only as good as the people who live and work in it. – Dee Hock