As the global economy returns to growth, agency recovery is uneven. In the United States, as the economy seems to be turning around, new business is booming again. In Europe, the picture is less rosy. Irrespective of that, until the global economy is booming again, the single highest priority for any agency should be to focus on keeping hold of existing clients. What I’d like to do here is share some thoughts on not just how to retain them, but also how to grow your business, especially in tough times.
These are lessons learnt from our clients. And for the most part, they’re simplicity itself:
Don’t assume. Know for sure.
They tell us that 70% of client defections are for service reasons, mainly because the agency didn’t deliver the expected quality of service. The moral is clear, you need to pin down precisely what is required. Can you say, hand on heart, that you know what:
- Your client’s goals are?
- Your client expects from you to meet their goals?
- Is critical-to-quality for strategic contribution and creative?
- They think your agency’s strengths are?
- Areas need improvement?
If you don’t ask, they won’t tell. But if you do, it will show that you are in their court.
Prove the impact you’re having on their business.
If you’re unsure of the level of impact you can demonstrate – or whether clients would agree with this assessment – make it your personal mission to get the proof (and the client on board).
Paranoia doesn’t mean they are not out to get you.
Keep tabs on your client. Unknowns can be uncovered by conducting regular, formal client/agency assessments. This should include the opportunity for the client to provide open-ended feedback.
You may find that having a third party conduct the assessment will get you better information than trying to conduct it with your own staff, but whichever route you choose – using internal or external staff – just do it.
Listen, absorb and act
When you discover what’s bothering clients, show them that you’ll act on it – and fast.
Get your team on board, then discuss your plan with the client and get their buy in. Update them regularly on progress, and ask for feedback. This is the chance for you to show that you’ve listened, acted and delivered results.
And if the feedback you uncovered was negative? Well, this will buy you an additional six months to turn things around.
Will this approach work? The results speak for themselves. We know for a fact, that agencies that get the right intelligence and act on it keep their clients. Agencies who assume or don’t act fast enough risk losing their clients.
In the words of late Leslie Nielsen “Good luck. We’re all counting on you.”
Guest Blogger: Adam Turinas, Relationship Audits & Management. If you would like to get in touch, please email him at email@example.com