Keeping the spark in your client relationships

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As with any relationship, the one you have with your client will no doubt have its ups and downs. At the start of a working relationship both parties experience the usual emotions – apprehension, anticipation, excitement. Will the agency do a good job now you’ve committed to six months with them? Will the client always be this nice?

At Ignite we’ve had long-standing relationships with many of our clients. We’ve been Poolwerx’s exclusive PR partner for five years and looked after Hire A Hubby’s PR program for more than two years. The average tenure with our clients is three years. So, what is the key to a great working relationship?

Keeping things fresh is an obvious, yet important, factor. If you’ve been working with a company for several years it can be all too easy to settle into a ‘routine’ – and you run the risk of falling out of love with each other.

Mutual respect is also critical to a successful relationship, as is understanding each other’s needs. If you lose sight of the bigger picture you won’t be helping your client achieve their long-term goals – and you might find yourself getting dumped for a newer model.

We’ve listed out our top five tips for keeping the spark in your client relationships below.

1) Call regularly – while email is the preferred choice of communication for many these days, nothing beats the courtesy of a quick phone call once a week. It will remind both of you that there’s a real, live human being on the other end of those correspondences, encouraging a better relationship. We have a service promise of at least three contacts a week.

2) Have a date night – take your clients out for dinner/lunch/coffee when you can. It’s a chance to get out of the corporate environment and for you to both get to know each other a bit better. Many will attest to the benefits of a social outing when it comes to fostering a stronger personal and, ultimately, working relationship with clients.

3) Role play – if you’re feeling disenchanted with your client, put yourself in their shoes for a while. Imagine the workload and consider any pressure points you might know of. Are you aware of any personal issues? Be understanding and be an adult – if the problem doesn’t seem to be going away, talk about it. It’s much better to clear the air than let a relationship run into distress.

4) Show an interest – don’t just ‘do the job’. Flag items of interest you’ve seen in the news or heard through the grapevine that’s relevant to their industry. Not only will this show your commitment to understanding the industry landscape and where your client fits, it’ll show that you’re continuously on the pulse of industry news and issues. This kind of assurance is critical to engaging your clients beyond the regular day-to-day activity.

5) Make them feel special – agency PR people will know all too well the juggling skills required to manage multiple clients. However, the number one rule in client relations is to never, ever make your client feel like they are anything less than your number one priority – regardless of how busy you are.