Just as the shoemaker’s child goes barefoot, marketing agencies sometimes forget to employ the same customer experience tactics for themselves that they do for their clients. That is, they get so wrapped up in the work that they forget to build the relationship. Then, at the end of the project or contract, while the client may walk away happy – he or she may also walk away forever.
That’s because the work is not enough.
Clients expect you to do good work when they hire you. Unfortunately, they may think anyone they hire can do the same caliber of work, so it doesn’t really matter whom they choose.
That’s why you have to make yourself the obvious choice, every time and all the time.
Often, it boils down to adherence to the Four Cs: Communication, Collaboration, Creativity and Commitment. And, while it may seem simple, their navigation actually is about as easy as a tightrope walk.
Communication is more than just keeping in touch. It is an ongoing process of give and take, but giving and taking in a way that is non-disruptive for both your organization and the client. That’s why a front-loaded system works best; that is, a strategic look at what already is being said and the goals of, and agreement on, new messaging. This reduces the need for meetings and constant wheel re-invention, enabling all to spend their time more productively and in a less stressful way. How does this create a strong relationship? With this approach, you become the archivist – the person/group that already has the informational foundation from which to launch more, and new, campaigns.
Collaboration, while easy to define, is definitely not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Some clients are more hands-on; others are more than happy to let you take the wheel. It all comes down to each client’s specific rhythms and comfort zones. It also ties in with what some call a concierge strategy, which focuses on providing exemplary service, advice and guidance to meet a wide variety of immediate needs. In marketing, however, it also involves taking the time to listen and understand the client’s long-term goals, marrying that with any episodic requests or one-off projects in order to promote a cohesive marketing effort. The best collaborations fall into the middle of the extremes, based on the mutual trust and respect that form the foundation for productive interactions.
Creativity, of course, is key – but not just for creativity’s sake. It is a sad fact that some agencies can get so caught up in the dazzle that they forget the message. The point is to make the client stand out in its market and industry, but in a good way and a way that builds and maintains momentum. We all have commercials we love but we couldn’t name the sponsor if our lives depended upon it. That’s why it is so important to help clients develop creative strategies that align with their business goals and generate a sustainable conversation about their brands.
Commitment, on the other hand, is one area in which it’s all right to be a little self-centered, nurturing a passion to do your best work at all times and pride that will allow you to do no less. This may sound like a no-brainer and it is – in the most literal way.
That’s because true commitment is a product of the heart, truly caring about the client’s future and being proud to do your part.
Like any strong relationship, the creation of an exceptional client experience builds up over time and requires concerted effort. And, as in any relationship worth pursuing, it requires regular tune-ups to keep it strong and never taking the connection for granted. In marketing, that means assuring the client stays on course but not on automatic pilot, engendering the confidence and loyalty that keeps the bond strong.