Being a project manager means having to work with clients on a daily basis – especially when working in the creative or digital sector. This can have its perks and its disadvantages. You get to meet a variety of people and learn from them. However, this also means that you are working with many different types of people – some nicer than others.
You’ll have to remember that although not all of them are always nice, they are all very important to your business. They can be a source of income and can help you build your reputation and earn more clients. Boosting your relationship with them means developing and increasing trust with your team as well as the clients. What’s more, having good relations with your clients will reduce your stress by a huge margin and help you achieve an easier project workflow. Because of all of this, you will need good client management tools and skills.
Today, we’re looking at some of the most important ways in which you can perfect client management as a creative/digital agency.
Think about how you see your clients
One of the first things you should consider is your outlook on clients. There is a trend, especially in the creative or digital industry, where we tend to sometimes demonize our clients. Sure, as you do your business, there will be good clients and bad clients. But you need to remember that a part of your job is managing relationships with ALL clients.
This all starts with the way you perceive them. If you start projecting your negative opinions onto the clients, then it is only a matter of time before they turn bad in your mind. In turn, you will then try to cut corners and over-bill, which will only lead to more negativity. It is a vicious cycle that only you can end by having a positive outlook!
So keep in mind that no matter what they want or ask you for, your clients aren’t evil. They want you to succeed in the project just as much as you do – sometimes even more! Because of this, you should start looking at them as a part of your team. They may not be creative or digital experts, but they might have some valuable input for you. Doing this will greatly impact the way in which you communicate, as well as manage clients in your creative agency.
Learn to actively listen to your clients to better manage them
Active listening is a skill common to successful people. And yet, many still do not quite understand what it means to actively listen to someone. When we are communicating with people, we put a lot of stress on the way we talk. We actively think about what we are saying and then switch off a part of our brain while the other person is talking in order to come up with an answer. This is a wrong practice.
If you want to perfect client management as a creative/digital agency, then you will need to not only grasp what active listening is – but also learn to employ it. On the simplest level, this means engaging with your clients while they talk about their needs.
You need to show them that you are paying attention. Stay responsive and keep eye contact, while actively listening to what they are saying. At the end, make sure that you verify your understanding of what they need. This will not only ensure that you know what your task is, but your client will also know you listened and cared.
Understanding what it is exactly that your clients need is a staple of good client management. Shaping up the way they experience working with creative/digital agencies is another. Sometimes, you are not the only one having bad experiences with clients. They might have also suffered the same. So, make a point of asking them about their previous experience with companies similar to yours. This way, you can include them in the process from the beginning, ensuring that these negative experiences and issues do not happen again.
Develop trust with your clients
By discussing their previous experiences, you will do a good job of developing trust between you and your client. Remember, they should be a part of your team – and you need to trust your team. Without trust, you will not be able to complete the project successfully and without stress.
When employing this tactic, one of the biggest hurdles at the very beginning is figuring out which language to use. More often than not, you will get clients who do not have too much familiarity with the creative/digital agencies lingo. The same can apply to you. Your team might have never worked with someone in their industry, so expressing ideas between you and clients might be tough at the beginning.
With good client management, this is something you can sort out easily. Simply try to make the language you are using easy for your clients. Make sure you explain any terms that they might not understand – and try to use their language as well!
Another important piece of developing trust with your clients is to be honest. Sometimes, especially when it comes to the budgeting or the timelines, people try to muddle up the truth. Even if you have news your client might not enjoy hearing, they need to hear it! Remember – you are working with each other, not against!
Share information with your clients as much as you can
People have a lot of different opinions when it comes to sharing information with your clients – especially in the creative/digital industry. They believe that this is an opportunity for clients to meddle in their workflow and slow down the process. However, this goes against everything we’ve previously discussed. Your client is a part of your team – and you need to value their opinion. This is why sharing information with them is actually really beneficial!
This also ties to being honest with your clients. Even when you identify a potential problem, you will need to share it with your clients. By doing so, you might even be able to fix it before it becomes a greater concern!
Finally, it is very important you do not keep your clients in the dark. You might be going through your project, nearing its end, but if you do not inform your clients about it – they might as well think you have given up! Luckily, client management tools like Nifty can help you keep your clients updated on your progress at all times. This way, you will be giving feedback from the clients – and receiving it, thus boosting your project success with ease!
About the author: Content writer at Nifty, leading project management tool. Petar Djordjevic is also a Math student working to become a professional novel writer. In the meantime, he is learning about online writing, content optimization and ways to boost client’s website users’ experience.