Take a moment to envision your dream client.
Their business is the ideal size and in the ideal industry. Their needs align perfectly with your offerings. They communicate explicitly about what they want and love everything your team produces.
Best of all? They speak so highly of you that your word-of-mouth business is through the roof.
Multiply that experience. Everyone who walks through your agency’s doors fits that profile.
OK, put your feet back on the ground and answer one big question: Why does this scenario have to remain a dream?
If you think this can’t happen for you, we’re going to challenge you to assume that it will. But manifesting big things isn’t just about visualizing; it requires action, too.
Reinventing your agency’s culture from one of chaos to one of calm will attract clients who match your team’s under-control mood and make each day easier and more profitable.
Let’s walk through the steps you can take to establish more harmonious client relationships:
No doubt, you and your team have had great and not-so-great experiences with clients. If you’re like most service-based businesses, you go through a predictable love-hate cycle with the not-so-great ones:
Phase 1: Yes! We got a new client. Everything about them is amazing.
Phase 2: Oh, this is a little frustrating, but I’ll do whatever it takes to make them happy.
Phase 3: They’re asking for something outside the original scope we agreed upon, and I’m worried about how to handle that.
Phase 4: My team is at the end of their rope, and the client is not loving the results. But we need to finish out this project.
Phase 5: That’s it. I don’t care how much time and money we’ve wasted. We will not lose this client!
Rinse and repeat.
You might be so used to this destructive, resource-heavy cycle that you don’t think there’s any way to run your agency without participating in it — at least sometimes.
But this is a major source of frustration, even chaos. You don’t need any of that in your world, and as we’ve learned, stressed people can’t serve clients to the fullest anyway.
So, what do I do? Just find better clients?
While there’s something to be said for vetting prospective clients, your agency also has to be ready to give them the full experience they expect after they’ve signed a contract.
Believe it or not, the ability to establish ideal relationships with clients doesn’t solely depend on having ideal clients.
It’s possible to cut the dreaded cycle off at the pass by dropping the idea that you have to find people who align perfectly with your buyer personas. Instead, focus on showing those who walk in the door that they’re valued without overextending your team.
Before a client signs a contract, they come to you with needs they may not fully understand.
Your team is completely in control of evaluating fit, managing expectations, fitting them into your current workflows and identifying potential problems before they get too big to handle.
Could it be that the team has just been too overwhelmed, and too isolated from clients, to notice the signs of future project-related issues?
A Dartmouth study found that when people are stressed, they choose to socialize less. This means your team won’t feel interested in reaching out to clients in meaningful ways (or asking important questions) when they’re simply concerned about checking tasks off a list.
Addressing your team’s state of mind comes first. Here are some internal techniques that may help improve their readiness for deeper client relationships:
A supported team will be more equipped to fully support the people you’ve hired them to serve. Once your employees have been given permission to go from frazzled to at ease, you’ll likely see an immediate change in the way they interact with colleagues and current clients.
You can also address lackluster conversations, infrequent communication and other client struggles by relaying to your team the importance of bonding with every client — aside from upping your bottom line. Emphasize the fact that people are more likely to do business with those they like and feel connected to.
Clients are more than the source of your agency’s bread and butter. If you and your team don’t acknowledge that they bring something greater to the table, it’s tempting to blame any lack of results on their particular profile or behavior.
Each client has the potential to teach your team something new, test your agency’s unique approach to client work and spread the word far and wide about what you’ve done for them.
Note: The power of word-of-mouth marketing is immense. Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising survey found that 92% of people trusted recommendations from people they know over any other form of advertising
A number like that should be a significant motivator for you to revamp the way your agency looks at the lifetime value of a client.
But what if you don’t think your current clients are likely to shout about your work from the rooftops? Can you change that?
Only if you erase the blame factor.
If you took clients themselves off the table as the root cause of rocky or stagnant relationships, where else would you point the finger? The only logical place is back at yourself. While that may be a harsh truth, it’s not the end of the road.
It’s the beginning of a new vision for your agency — a new way of interacting with clients that will make everyone feel less of a need to point fingers in the first place.
Downshifting your agency-wide pace and focusing more on the value of one-on-one connections will help you attract new clients, dream clients, who used to seem like mere figments of your imagination.
Mindset is a great place to start, but it’s not everything. The tangible stuff matters, too.
If your agency hasn’t nailed the fundamentals of effective communication, trusting relationships with clients won’t be possible. Living in a land of endless reply-all email threads about various upcoming launches isn’t helping anyone.
A dream client could call today, but if you’re not set up to take care of them in the way they expect, they’ll become one of your not-so-great clients.
That’s why efficient systems should go hand-in-hand with calming down your agency culture.
When you and your leadership team are only focused on keeping everyone’s head above water, you don’t have time to identify roadblocks, nor to get to know your clients on a deeper level.
You could be unknowingly limiting your ability to pinpoint the exact impact you can generate for them and to execute your (no-doubt ingenious) plans.
Counterintuitive as it may be, breaking down barricades on your way to the agency version of Oz doesn’t require fancier tech and a huge team.
Beyond stress reduction, what you need is the perfect mix of client visibility, useful automation and timely communication.
Simply adding another tool to your tech stack isn’t the answer. You’ve got to add the right one — or several that integrate seamlessly across essential functions like project management, retainers and invoicing.
Clients will represent your vision of the dream when they feel they’re in the loop, but you’ll only see them as such when you can keep that loop going with minimal effort. That means:
When you remove day-to-day inefficiencies, you expand your team’s capacity to maintain healthy relationships with existing accounts, provide higher-quality work and take on bigger and more complex clients.
Now that sounds like a dream.
You don’t have to wait to start evolving your agency’s culture to support more functional systems and healthy client relationships. Download our “Chaos to Calm” eBook below.