Last year we asked a mix of agencies and clients for their opinions on the best thing about working together and the biggest challenge. Here’s what we found out about the rules of agency and client relationships.
1. Relationships are everything!
Both sides of the Agency and Client relationship say that having a good relationship is imperative to working together and getting great outcomes.
“When the relationship is strong and our clients view us as trusted strategic partners, the teams on both sides love working together and can make a great impact.”
So what happens if you don’t invest a little time into the relationship? It becomes an ‘Us vs Them’ situation, which doesn’t always make for great results.
“The biggest challenge can be feeling like an external ‘supplier’ as an agency, rather than a ‘partner’.”
2. Variety really is the spice of life.
Again, both clients and agencies appreciate working with different people. From the agency perspective it’s about “working with a variety of people across a variety of industries”. A little bit of something different is always welcome in the work-day.
Clients really appreciate that variety too “The insight agencies have from working on other similar clients is the best thing” and it’s not just insights, it’s “the benefit of specific expertise and an alternative perspective” that make working with an agency the best thing.
3. Don’t be a tight-arse client.
Budgets exist. Getting value for your money doesn’t mean you need to be a little miserly. One agency respondent mentioned that one of the hardest things about working with clients was “getting them to not be penny-wise and pound-foolish”
Don’t expect a small budget to get you the Mona Lisa – but also, carefully consider what you want from the work the agency is doing. Creating a new modern website is great. So don’t skimp on tracking. Ensure you connect your lead generation forms to your CRM. Being unable to follow up on eCommerce abandoned carts because you didn’t budget for it? That’s just doing yourself a massive disservice.
4. Just because you’re an agency specialist doesn’t mean you’re always right.
“If there is a part we disagree on, it’s sometimes difficult to get the professional to change their views or way of working. And it’s even more difficult to get them to explain in a human language why they think the way they do. There is a lingering sense of superiority that can really put off a client.”
Bit brutal, but worth exploring a little. Yes, usually agency employees are specialists and yes, you may indeed be correct most of the time. However, there are ways to go about explaining your thoughts and the process for the work you’ve created for a client, that will help convince them you’re doing the best for them. If you’re upsetting your client, view rule 1 again.
5. “Creative and task briefs are only good if they’re read and fully understood.”
“OMG, write a decent brief” cries the creative director. We’ve all overheard a creative director muttering about how terrible a brief is. If there’s one thing that fires them up, it’s a boring brief.
Maybe we’re all just as guilty of not quite fully understanding (or taking the time to fully comprehend) a brief. We all know of those projects that got horribly delayed and derailed by missing something vital in the brief.
Multiple rounds of changes followed, that could easily have been avoided if the brief had been clearer and better understood. All those wasted hours of work! Worse still, hours of waiting around for the client feedback, only to find out it was not what they were really looking for. Which brings us to the last rule of agency and client relationships…
6. Timely and constructive client feedback is still the biggest pain point for agencies.
We’re not the first to come up with this as a challenge for Agencies. Instapage’s Digital Advertising Agency Report from as far back as 2018 states that waiting on clients for task responses is the biggest challenge for Agencies. Waiting weeks for approvals and feedback is largely “because agencies tend to spend 25-40% of their time on a project, but clients usually devote only 5-10% of their time on it”.
This is one area we can offer you some advice. If you’re waiting around for your client’s to get their feedback together, give BugHerd a try. It makes giving feedback on any web page easy and, dare we say it, fun for clients.
“One of the real values an agency can add is making it as easy as possible to get the projects completed by working in a way that suits the way the client works.”
Relationships are everything in the world of Agencies and clients, but maybe making your client’s job easier could just be the extra little something you’re missing.