If you’re happy and you know it, keep your brands!*
If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it until we’re blue in the face – Radioactive PR is built on the ethos of a happy team, doing great work with happy clients.
Those of us who have worked agency side for long enough have seen the various ups and downs of client relationships, and clients come and go for a whole variety of reasons. Some, as we’ve just experienced, leave because you’ve done such a good job (their words!) that they have a need for in-house teams around the world as a result of business expansion…!
And then there are the others. Agency/client relationships, just like romantic ones, can burn bright at first, but burnout quickly or sour to the point of no return if not handled correctly. In some cases, you may take on a new client for the kudos of the brand or the fee is too good to turn down (we all have bills to pay), but you know in your gut that it has the potential to be a bad working relationship even with careful management.
To get all philosophical on you for a moment, happiness is not a destination (someone much wiser than me said that first, but it applies here), there should be happy moments dotted throughout your time working with all clients. Making them happy can come easy in those early days, but how do you keep them happy?
- Live by the four Cs: Communicate, Collaborate, Celebrate/Commiserate, Consult
- Make them feel front of mind
- Be upfront about what you need from them
- Agree what success looks like by measuring the right things
- Be quick to own your mistakes
- Consider hiring a head of client services
- Be more Andy King
7 ways to keep clients happy
Any agency worth its salt should embed itself as much as it can with each client. While we may not share an office, we do share commitment to the same goals and care massively that we hit them. It’s why using WhatsApp works so well for us and our clients. We’re always available, the tone is friendlier than email even when new relationships are in the early stages, and it’s a place to share ideas, celebrate the victories and learn from the losses.
Rich wrote a killer blog late last year about how clients can get the most out of their PR agency.
Results aside, all clients want the same thing – to feel that their agency gives a shit about them and is constantly thinking about their business needs. As a service business we can only sell our time, which is a finite resource, and obviously no client buys all our time each month (although if anyone would like to, we’d love to talk!) so how can we give each client the feeling they are the only one? One simple way is to anticipate their needs – did they mention an internal stakeholder meeting next week? Ask if they want any data/results info from your side. Do you know they get antsy the week before a campaign goes live? Book in a call to talk through the strategy again so they feel at ease. Check what competitors are doing, suggest new ways of doing things or additional work that could enhance what PR is already doing for them. Even something as simple as sharing an article or topic that might work for their social media channels (assuming you don’t run them) is a nice touch.
Hiring an agency is meant to make clients’ lives easier – after all you’re taking the headache of media relations, messaging, story ideas etc. out of their hands. But the first three months of all new agency/client relationships, sometimes the first six, are crucial in setting up for lifelong happiness. You just need to get their buy-in first.
Simple things like asking to be added as Google Analytics users, sharing tools they use internally and access to any in-house resources like web developers, graphic designers for stories won’t make them feel like maybe hiring an agency is turning out to be more hassle than it’s worth to them initially.
Measurement and KPIs should ALWAYS be discussed before a client is on board. Nothing makes a client angrier than finding they’ve spent significant money on an all singing, all dancing PR campaign that they can’t justify to their finance director. No client comes to an agency wanting coverage for coverage’s sake anymore (did they ever, really?) so what do they really want? Footfall to shops/restaurants? Eventual sales? Brand awareness? New members / email newsletter subscribers / podcast listeners? Increased site visibility and traffic?
Getting clients to agree to KPIs and the way you will measure success of activity means not only can you really focus your efforts when it comes to the campaign itself, you also save yourself A LOT of headaches after the fact because you were all on the same page.
We’re all human, and mistakes happen, but lie about them or try to cover them up at your peril. Getting caught in a lie is far worse than facing consequences for the truth and will do untold damage to your client relationship. Owning your mistakes and offering solutions to fix problems quickly tends, in my experience at least, to go a long way in earning long-term respect from clients.
I know what you’re thinking; I can practically hear the eye rolls through the internet 🙄 but hear me out! No relationship is perfect, even when things are working well. Having a member of the team overseeing all activity but not directly involved in delivering that activity means clients have someone they can come to with any and all concerns before they turn into contract-ending problems. When done well, this role helps formalise agency client retention targets and can be crucial to reminding clients why they hired you in the first place.
But most importantly…
Just kidding! To paraphrase Meat Loaf – we would do anything for clients…but we won’t do that! 😬
Check out some of the clients we’ve made very happy over the last few years on our case study page. Think we can make you happy? Let’s talk 😊
*Christ, you can tell I’m a new parent 😂