The most valuable skill that any person in your business can have, is the ability to build trust and return, maintain those relationships. As the cornerstone upon which all 36Craft client-agency relationships are built, it goes without saying that a healthy client-agency relationship leads to more work, and often better work.
. There is no exact science for building trust with clients but, what I can tell you is that it isn’t simply methodical. Having worked with a number of account managers some believed always answering phone calls, responding quickly to e-mails, sending status reports within agreed time, and implementing on agreed deliverables timeously, was the secret to building good client-agency relationships. They were wrong. This is what they were paid to do, doing your job does not build trust, it gets the invoice settled . I am Sarah, Senior Account Director at 36Craft (and in my business partners’ view “Master of Building Trust With Clients”) and I prefer to take a more natural, less defined approach.
Any client who has no trust in their agency, makes one of two choices: Begrudgingly finish the project with you, and never use you again, or take the project away (often due to a lack of trust and transparency) and move on from the negativity you bring to their brand as fast as they possibly can. Simply put a lack of trust means no long term relationship, and ultimately no future with that client.
Real trust is the kind that buys you “currency” with a client, it is that special something that helps build long-term relationships beyond that first project, and into the next one. Here at 36Craft it is this level of trust that has helped us build long-term relationships with our clients, and what we believe will retain them in the long run. Real trust, is what gives us the opportunity to move beyond simple projects with clients, and actually build brands along with our clients.
I believe that my more natural, less defined approach to building trust consists of a blend of elements that go beyond simply doing the job you are paid for:
· Treat your client with respect, don’t assume you know everything about their business or brand
· Understand the clients processes and the way they like to work
· Implement those processes
· Become an expert in their business, without trying to diminish their role, they are your client, not your employee (and vice versa)
· Trust will naturally come from your expertise
· Have open, honest, and important conversations about anything and everything
· Listen to what they have to say
· Learn from your client
· Be flexible in your approach and solution
· Deliver on your promises
· Be reliable
· Always make your client look good
· Under promise and over deliver
· Be seen as a business partner, and this approach will make you far less expendable.
As an agency, you know that your clients trust you when they come to you first, not only for work related projects, but for business and brand advice too. What is important is the majority of the time this trust relationship sits with a single person, and not only the Agency. These people are the key to your businesses success. We at 36Craft are fortunate enough to work with many of these types of clients, many of whom have been clients since inception. Building a trust relationship with clients is a complex mix, and balancing act of both the hard and soft skills however, for an agency to succeed trust needs to be the foundation upon which all client relationships are built. And this goes back to bringing in the right people not only for the brands they will be working on, but also for your brand, they will be representing.
Crafted by Sarah Midgley