You may have had that initial spark, but like all relationships, the chemistry can begin to fade if you don't put in the work. Retaining a client can be even more difficult than winning a new account: Every email, every interaction, and every look will be scrutinized by an unhappy and unsatisfied client. And every email, interaction, and look can be the spark that leads to mistrust and dissatisfaction.
You need a way to periodically review the happiness of your clients and an approach to relationship building and maintenance.
We asked a few agency executives for advice on how to retain clients and build long-lasting relationships. Here's what they had to say:
Show them you care. Call them. Go pay a visit. Send an email. Acknowledge them in a tweet. Write them a thank-you note every once in a while. This business, like most others, is about relationships. No great relationship I know of was founded on poor communication; in fact, relationships need great communication to thrive. Many of our clients are long-term clients because we actually care about the success of their business and about their personal success, but even if we cared more than anyone else, those clients would still question the relationship if we didn’t communicate well.
- Joe Saracino | Erwin Penland
The truth is, if you really know your client’s business -- their category, their customers and prospects, their competitive environment, and their culture -- you can be much more efficient with their time. Being well-versed in your client’s business leads to richer, more insightful, and more meaningful conversations. In fact, less time will probably lead to more time because you’ll be that special someone they can’t get enough of.
- Chris Witherspoon | DNA
Establish an open and honest relationship and keep communications channels OPEN!
Clear communication and understanding is the only way to monitor and improve performance. Ideally, that is a two-way street. It’s like any good relationship -- know and understand your partner fully. Ambiguity equals death.
- Patrick Scullin | Ames Scullin O’Haire
Keep their external and internal challenges at heart. Sometimes agencies look too much to what kind of footprint a project will make in the agency fish pond. That is not the way to retain clients. Initiate reviews with the client to make sure that you deliver beyond expectations.
- Ann Ystén | Perfect Fools
Complacency is the enemy of long-term relationships. In many ways, you need to treat your relationship with your clients like a marriage. Don’t take them for granted. Never let it get stale. Keep the passion at a high level. Adapt with the times and ever-changing needs of your partner. If your clients feel your love and excitement for their brand, there’s much less of a chance for them to have a wandering eye.
- Scott Foreman | Publicis Seattle
Originally published Sep 17, 2015 8:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016