Director of Client Services, Maria Dillon shares her expertise on how to effectively on-board a new client to ensure a successful relationship.

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  • Maria Dillon
  • Director of Client Services

How to Build a Rock Solid Client-Agency Relationship

The on-boarding process for new clients is absolutely crucial as it helps to introduce the working relationship between both parties and lays the foundation of how to work together effectively.

As soon as a contract is signed, I like to give our new clients something to introduce them to our agency and tell them a little bit about us; such as educational items and begin to set baselines we adhere to. In order to do this, we have an account and creative services manual that outlines our background and service offering, an introduction to the team with key personnel and account designations, payment terms and creative timelines.

I have provided some detail on what each of these sections entail so you can create a manual of your own and start building rock solid client relationships.

Background and services:

This section should give a little background on your agency, what your values are, what you do for your clients, how you work, and goals for your partnership. You will also want to outline the full scope of services that your agency offers. If they are only using a partial list of your services, this works as a great reminder in the hopes that if they have a need for a new service or project, they look to you as a partner that can execute multiple facets of their business (rather than outsourcing to another company).

Meet the team - overview of firm, key personnel, and account designations:

Outlining staff at the agency helps the client to understand that there are a lot of resources at their fingertips, and working on their business. It also helps to reinforce planting the seed for future projects. Introducing key personnel helps that client to make the connection of who they will be interacting with on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis and what role these people will be playing. This also helps to set the standard of the amount of support that clients will receive on their account (although often times there are a lot more behind the scenes roles that they often don’t see). The last step in this section is to communicate account designations, this ensures the client knows who their point of contact is for ease of communication.

Billing/Payment Terms:

Sometimes when a contract is negotiated at a high level, it doesn’t get communicated to all parties. Since we foster a culture of client transparency at our agency, it is important to reiterate to our team and the client what our monthly agreement contained, and when we would be submitting payment each month. This helps to establish a process for both teams up front, so that the transition of working with a new agency and team is seamless.

Creative Timelines:

When you are producing a large amount of creative work it is important for you to establish some baselines for varying creative projects along with the direction that your team would need in order to start a project. Pinpoint these bare minimum details such as:

  • Type of project (print, digital, etc.)
  • Detailed specs (spec sheet from vendor is ideal)
  • Direction on messaging and creative expectations
  • Drop dead due date to third party vendor

We then develop standard timelines for new creative projects, revisions, development and HTML coding. We know the nature of the retail business, and understand that there will always be rush and/or expedited projects that won’t be able to follow the standard timelines we’ve created, but we can always do our best to meet these needs as they arise.

Setting up these sorts of boundaries help to establish a healthy working relationship and set expectations so that neither party (client or agency) becomes disgruntled during the beginning stages of working together.

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