Client Communication: The Good, the Bad and the Surprisingly Non-Existent

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Client Communication

As marketers, our job is to speak for our client. Whether that happens directly through a public relations campaign or indirectly through the creation of materials that speak to their brand promise, everything we do communicates on their behalf. So how is it that our communications to our clients tend to get so muffled?

The “No News is Good News” Trap

Oftentimes, a client’s main complaint regarding agency communication is that there simply isn’t enough of it. We are caught off-guard when confronted with this grievance because we at the agency know that all projects are on track. What we forget when caught up in the day-to-day of completing client work is that the client is not a mind reader and has no idea what is happening inside of the agency. Our assumption holds to the old adage that “no news is good news” and that if something goes wrong, then we will inform the client. Their projects could be on schedule to meet a deadline or they could be sitting in the purgatory that is the time between internal review and client approval, but without us relaying the message, they don’t know this status and tend to ere on the side of skeptical. How do we prevent falling into this pattern and better serve our clients?

The Don’ts

Don’t be a solely reactive account executive. In order to ensure client satisfaction, we must be proactive in our communications and constantly aware of what our client may need before they actually need it. In order to do this, there are a few tactics that will help you to stand out and be the partner your client deserves and expects.

The Dos

Set Clear Expectations – Set yourself and your client relationship up for success by establishing communication guidelines from the very start. Find out how often the client would like to be contacted as well as the best method of communication. This will vary from client to client. Some may like weekly phone catch-ups where you discuss all current and upcoming projects, while others may like daily emails. Knowing what is expected from the start ensures that there is no surprise communication complaint because a client does not feel like their needs are being met.

Give Relevant & Concise Information – The person you are communicating with is often going to relay your message to others within their organization. Save them from having to deduce the facts from a wordy email and make sure to keep your communications to the point, while still making sure they contain all pertinent information.

Choose Your Method Wisely – Know how to judge your communication and to decide whether the update necessitates an email, a phone call, or a face-to-face meeting. General rule of thumb is that if you feel uneasy sending an email about something, go with your gut and make a phone call. If the issue at hand is particularly sensitive (be it time or content), a face-to-face may be more appropriate.

Tactful Delivery – It’s not what you’re saying, but how you are saying it. Delivery is key and can determine your client’s reaction.