The relationship between agency and client goes far beyond a simple business transaction. The success or failure of a business and an agency’s reputation depend on how well this relationship is managed. Effective and intelligent management of this relationship can lead to great gains for both agency and client. One should always think long-term and not think of it as the ‘current deal’. What one needs to understand is that the success of a business or an agency depends on long-term professional relationships. Therefore, one should strive to build good agency-client relationships, and not just think of short-term gains. Let us look at how to make sure that a client-agency relationship turns out to be a successful one.
One of the biggest obstacles to a good client-agency relationship is communication which is unclear. This can lead to great confusion, arguments and setbacks for both parties. Regular communication is essential is prevent this problem, so that points which were misunderstood can be cleared immediately without having to discover the fruits of such misunderstandings or misinterpretations much later. Each time one communicates with the agency/client, whether it is a meeting or over the phone, one must make sure that the conversation begins with an agenda and ends with a clear summary about what was covered during the conversation. Any correspondence that takes between the agency and the client should be recorded in writing. Not getting in writing can lead to unnecessary and relationship-harming blame games later. Not only will such blame games lead to strained professional relationships, it will also lead to projects going over-budget and/or not meeting deadlines.
Another point that needs to be kept in mind while trying to maintain good agency-client relationships is that there should be realistic expectations from both sides from the very first conversation. One should immediately clear any unrealistic expectations that the client/agency is harbouring to avoid disappointment and strained relationships. To avoid such unrealistic expectations, everything must be covered in a project brief so as to ensure that all parties know what exactly to expect from each other.
The agency and client must see the relationship as a ‘partnership’. Clients should refrain from treating an agency as someone whose role it is to take their orders. It is important that clients listen to the agency’s strategic input as this can help one’s business to grow further. Agencies should avoid treating clients as ‘outsiders’. It is recommended to make a client aware about internal processes, as this can lead to better results and less friction between client and agency. An agency should make sure that their project management documents are made available to their clients. Innovation is also a key element of successful client-agency relationships. It is important to keep thinking of new ways to clear problems, and avoid getting stagnant. It is recommended to hold brainstorming sessions once in a while.
Instead of sticking to the old strategy, one must take the initiative to deviate from it a little to try out new solutions. This will lead to the growth of both agency and client, leading to a fruitful professional relationship.