Account management 101: Building client relationships

Working in a digital marketing agency means that we’re dealing with clients A LOT. Building relationships, and building trust, with these clients is the key to success.

One of the first things to remember, especially for younger agency employees or people who are new to the agency ecosystem: we are dealing with many clients everyday, but our clients are only dealing with us. We’ve got to work on building these relationships with our clients because that is how you build trust.

We’ve got to think about the relationships with our clients the same way you think about any other relationship in your life. Building these relationships takes time, effort, and tact. But it’s worth it, because a good client relationship can lead to positive word-of-mouth, increased sales, more connections and job satisfaction for you.

One piece of feedback that I’ve received from many clients is that they don’t hear enough from their account manager, they don’t know what is going on or what the status of the project is.

You see, when it comes to your clients, there is no such thing as over-communication.

No client has ever complained that we’re too good at keeping them up-to-date, or informed about their project. Even if they’re not replying to every email, they still need to be kept updated. Keep them in the loop about everything, tell them about the small issues before they become big issues. Meeting minutes are important — send them to your client after every meeting/call. Ensure your meeting notes have action points and a person assigned to each action point, with a due date.

Another important part of building relationships with your clients is honesty. No long term relationship can survive without honesty. Your clients aren’t stupid, they know when they’re being lied to or when something is hidden from them. All it takes is for that one time when the client realises you’re lying to them — your relationship is instantly ruined and you’ve broken their trust. After this, they will never fully trust you again, believe me.

You need to treat your clients the way you’d like to be treated. Think about how you’d like to be spoken to, and talk to your clients like that. Remember that tone does not come across over email, so if you’re unsure how your message will be received — pick up the phone.

Treat all of your clients (and actually every person you ever deal with) with respect, and take the time to explain things. They don’t have the same knowledge as you, that’s why they’ve hired you.

Don’t think about your clients as just clients.

Your client is not just revenue for your company, they are an actual human being, like real likes and dislikes. If you build a proper relationship with your clients they are way more likely to become loyal customers and brand evangelists.

Think about your relationship with your client as a partnership. You need to show them that you’re in this for the long haul, and that you want them to succeed. Always think about their big picture, even if they’re not thinking about it.

A very important part of building relationships with your clients — never miss your deadlines.

A deadline is a commitment you’ve made to your client. If you’re not going to meet the due date, communicate way before that date and explain why. Keep the communication lines open during this time, so the client knows you’re working on it.

Try to keep it lighthearted sometimes.

Your clients are humans. When you’re meeting with them, or you’re on a call, don’t just dive straight into the work conversation. Ask them about their day, the weekend, that sports team they support. Try and have a laugh together — it really goes a long way in building a relationship.

Basically — treat your clients like actual humans and try to build a relationship with them just like you would build one with anyone else.