Medium iced coffee, coconut milk, with sweetener. That’s the coffee order of a new client at Wye Communications. We had a morning meeting early in our relationship, and on the way over, I texted the client to ask if she wanted anything at Starbucks. Now that order is burned into my brain. Any time I head over for a meeting, I bring one with me.
I still remember prior clients’ lunch preferences, favorite beers, the sports their kids play, the authors they read, the music they like. I have one former client who eats every single French fry or side dish on their plate before attacking the main course.
What does this mean — besides admitting I have a good memory for minor details of people’s lives? It’s a point that I cannot reiterate enough — client service is a skill you can always be honing and improving. We should not just be selling to our clients or thinking, “what’s in it for us?” The client-agency world is a two-way street that starts and ends with relationship building. It’s our job to both notice the big stuff and care about the small stuff.
Winning business and keeping clients long-term is significantly easier if you have a working relationship with them. At Wyecomm, one of our first rules of engagement before bidding on a new client project is, “Do we know anyone at [X] Company?” If we don’t, there’s a pretty good chance we aren’t going to win the business. Likewise, if we don’t remember what format a client likes best in a status report, or if they prefer to communicate via text-versus-phone calls-versus-email, does it matter? Maybe not at first, but over time if you can show them you care enough to remember without being asked, you move from being just their account person to their trusted counselor, and maybe even can make the jump to being their friend.
We work hard on behalf of our clients. We just finished a whirlwind couple of weeks helping a client make a big announcement. It was one of those times where days blur together and the normal 9–5 hours of agency-client contact turns into late night and early morning text messages. We were with the client whenever and wherever they needed us — grabbing coffee, taking a breather over lunch, facilitating conference calls over three time zones (not my strongest suit) or waking up early to see if a big story posted.
When we finished the project, the client looked at the team and said (I’m paraphrasing here), “I’ll do anything you need me to do — you guys have been fantastic.” What could be better than that?
This piece was written by Adam Scholder, SVP of Client Service at Wye Communications. With more than 20 years of experience working in public relations, Adam is a communications generalist by choice, and enjoys working on companies, brands and products he finds stimulating and challenging. Find out more about Wye Communications at http://www.wyecomm.com/.