A Trio of Attributes Essential to a Strong Client/Agency Relationship
We are often asked, “what makes a good relationship with a client?” And having been a client myself, I recall what I valued most in my company’s relationship with an agency when I answer that question. Like any relationship – whether personal or business – it boils down to three key attributes: trust, transparency and teamwork.
Trust is an essential component of any relationship. Why would any client work with an agency it doesn’t trust to act in its best interest? Why would an agency be anything less than truthful with a client about the branding challenges it faces? The presence of trust is a key indicator of the health of any relationship because without it, you cannot have the confidence to share your point of view. Without it, most relationships are doomed to decline and eventually fall apart. Trust also means doing what you say you’ll do. It’s easy to talk the talk, but more difficult to walk the walk. One additional point that relates to trust is tone. Sure, we want to be honest with clients and have them do the same, but using the wrong tone with one another can erode trust quickly.
Transparency is burgeoning all around us, but relationships often seem to be stuck in a last-century time warp, untouched by the changing world and the public exposure of most everything that used to be easy to hide. That is, our hyper-connected, social-media dominated world bursts with transparency via public exposure of truths and realities that appear almost immediately. As transparency increases, trust increases; and the converse is also true. Transparency also helps show the human side of your business, whether you’re the client or the agency. Our relationships are not all about money and work because there are real people with real lives and interest who make our agency run. Transparency builds empathy and emotional ties based on commonly held attributes between us and our clients.
Teamwork in a relationship means you combine your resources, your time, your efforts and your goals in order to see your relationship prosper and move forward in unison. We see this reflected best when clients view us as their partner, not just their ad agency or PR firm. Being able to work productively with a team is one of the most crucial aspects of achieving success in a business setting. It’s incredibly important for increasing creativity, improving the quality of work and also fostering healthy and productive relationships. Teams can generate bigger ideas and accomplish work more quickly and effectively than people taking on projects on their own. Collaboration also keeps employees accountable to each other, which increases motivation. Teamwork doesn’t always mean the client and the agency need to be on the same page on everything, as it can be healthy to disagree and argue at times (with the right tone, of course).
What do you think is most important in a client/agency relationship? If we’re missing something, we’d love to hear from you.