The Broken Client Process
How we’ve changed our thinking on client processes
“We use a mixture of Slack, Skype, Trello, Github, Basecamp, Email, but clients don’t always use them so sometimes we also use Teamwork, Jira and Google Hangouts”
We realised in our early days as an agency that there’s often a disconnect between the processes we have internally and those used by our clients.
This also extended to the tools and applications used, so we started to work on a process that all new and existing clients could adopt. The hope was that in doing so, we’d improve client satisfaction, efficiency in deliverables and lines of communication.
We could also ensure that everything was documented in one place making it easier for internal and external team members to find the status of a project easily.
Changing client’s processes are hard
The problem we found was that a majority of our existing clients were very used to (and happy) with our current process, so adding to or changing it was causing friction between us and them. Some new clients took to the process well, and others took more time to get used to it.
Change is tough and there will be some initial resistance from your clients, particularly if they’re happy with the current process.
Be sure to explain how the new process benefits them and what improvements they should see as a result.
If they refuse to adopt processes or are reluctant, don’t be too forceful in getting them on board. Instead, allow them to contact you how they prefer and slowly implement some of the processes for them. This makes it much less daunting.
For instance, if you want a client to start using a help desk system, but they insist on e-mailing you, forward the e-mail to the help desk system. Reply through the system and the client will then have an e-mail from the system that they can reply to, inadvertently getting them using it.
No two clients are the same
And the processes you put in place for one don’t always work for another. It is important however, to not compromise completely on your processes. Remember that the process is there to help the client and your team achieve your objectives in the most efficient way possible.
What have we learned?
Your process as an agency has to be flexible, we have tools that we love and others that we use less often.
Don’t get hung up on the tools, and don’t expect every client to use and adapt to them. An example of this is when we worked with a client whose company policy means they cannot use any Google products, throwing Google docs and Drive out the window immediately. Instead take what tools you do have available and see if you can tailor your process to work alongside them.
Now when we discuss our process with new clients, we’ll ask them how they work internally and how they’ve worked with other agencies in the past (including what they liked/disliked about it).
We can then ensure that what we suggest is actually feasible for them to implement and figure out how we can be effective and efficient in our management of them.