Starting afresh with clients
Updated: Jan 15, 2020
Whether it's the start of the year (which it is as I write this), or at any point where you're thinking your client relationship could be better, has gotten a little stale, or you generally want to progress it, the best place to start is to take a step back and think about the following things:
1. Where are you in your relationship with your client right now? For example, is your relationship with that person friendly, do they come to you for advice, is it transactional and they only contact you for something from your service which they specify exactly, or something in-between? Do they avoid your phone calls or rarely miss them if they're around? How long does it take them to reply to your emails? Then give the relationship a score out of 10
2. Now do exactly the same, but this time put yourself in your client's shoes as much as you feel you can. Are you happy working with this agency person? If so, what are the reasons? If not, what do you feel they could be doing better for you and what's missing? Do you get on with him/her? Do you feel pleased that he/she called, or annoyed and just ignore it? Is that person delivering what they say they will, on time? Performing below/at/above expectations? Now give the relationship a score, from the client's perspective, out of 10
3. Check if there's a mismatch. If you scored the relationship from the client perspective lower than your own score, why do you think that is? For example, is it because you're normally only in touch with the client because you want something from them and, through this exercise, you've just realised that? Is it that, in all honesty, you could show more interest in them by asking about what's important to them without being driven by your own agenda? Could it be that there could be more value that the client could be getting from your relationship and service? Or do they have unrealistically high expectations of you and your service? Try to identify the one or two things that you think are the main contributors to this mismatch.
4. Now, whether there was a mismatch or you're both on a 6, DON'T aim for a 10! You may know what a 10 looks like for both of you - open conversations, access to their plans, genuine partnering in their projects, they're your sponsor in their organisation etc etc - but trying to leap from a 6 or 7 is unrealistic. Instead, what are the one or two small things that you can get started on this week, that will start moving you to +1? For example, if you believe their expectations are too high for you and/or your service, ask yourself why is that, and what can you get started on to change that.
Write down the things that need changing, work out how you're going to do them and when. I know it may look like lots of things need to be done at once, and we all want to change everything NOW! Especially at the start of a new year! But just like crash-dieting, it doesn't work in the long term. Incremental changes are far less exciting, but much more sticky.
Here's to your success!