Creatives love to celebrate their creativity. Seriously, they have an award show category for everything, at the Chip Shop Awards there’s a category for work most likely to start World War 3. But when it comes to client service, as an industry we identify it as a skill set not an art form. This simply isn’t true. When client service is done correctly, it’s really something to behold, like witnessing James Baxter from the cartoon series Adventure Time, a perfect mixture that makes everyone happy. It’s an art form, a balancing act, and a talent for negotiating on the back foot. So here are a few tips to ensure that you don’t lose the art of client service.
You Need To Define What Your Goal Is
It might seem super obvious, but when you’re sitting next to the client always ask them, “What would success look like for this project?” This might mean you’ll need to have a lengthy conversation, but it’s a discussion you must agree on before officially declaring the kick-off. After all, if you start on the wrong foot, you’re bound to get lost along the way then you’ll land up at completely the wrong destination. Make sure that both parties know what the end result should be. Find the perfect balance, like James*.
Know Your Client’s Industry
A good client manager knows their client’s product, a great one understands the industry they’re operating in and can give insightful information about their sector. Being up-to-date with latest trends and innovations in your client’s sector will not only allow you to score brownie points with them, but it’ll help you write insightful briefs that creatives can use to create better work. When you have a crystal clear objective to work towards, it means that you’ll have a lot less reverts and clueless creative phone calls. Just like James, he understood that his one single purpose in life was to make sad people happy*.
Always Follow Up And Be Available
It might be the most annoying part of the job, but following up and being on call is key. 24/7 is a pivotal part of being a great client service person. You’re the glue that keeps the job moving forward, because let’s be frank, Johnny the Junior Art Director has spunk but can’t remember a single thing after 16:20…
Following up doesn’t just refer to chasing creatives for work, but rather communicating with clients. Make sure that after every meeting you ping an email into their inbox about what happened around the boardroom table, and always ensure they read it.
While it is impossible to literally be available 24/7, make sure that your client has an idea where you are, and when they can expect a response, because an uninformed client is an angry one.
There Are Sides
Delivering great work to a client is a team effort. After all, “Team work makes dream work!” Building healthy relationships with your creatives, tuning into their wavelengths and supporting them will help not only hype them up to deliver better work, but will also ensure you’re actually pumped to present the work to your clients! Be the star player and support your team!
Be A Clear Communicator
It could literally be the most repeated statement in agency history, “I don’t understand.”
Yes, we’ve all been there, huddled around a desk, clutching a job bag or staring at an opened email, pointing at sentences that everyone is trying to decipher.
If you’re looking to be a great account manager make sure that the language you use in all your communications is simple and to the point. Often it’s best to imagine you’re writing for someone who’s completely clueless – I often pretend I’m writing to my mom about computers. While some might poke fun at your thoroughness, the fact of the matter is, once they have to assume something, you can be damn sure all hell will break loose. Be a clear communicator. Like James, he only uses two words to create a difference*.
Only once you’ve mastered these skills and art forms can you consider yourself a master of client service – or James Baxter*.
*Is there anything better than James Baxter? Read more about the horse here: http://adventuretime.wikia.com/wiki/James_Baxter