Issues are bound to arise in any client-agency relationship. Client briefs will change, budget issues can arise, and feedback can (too often) be fuzzy. It all comes with the territory, some will say, but at Fifty Five and Five we try to ensure that issues, when they do crop up, are navigated smoothly.

Building client trust is at the centre of everything we do. At Fifty Five and Five we try to approach issues with clients as we would our own employees: with transparency, honesty, and kindness. It’s inevitable that problems in a project will arise, so here are our tips on how to handle them when they do.

How do we keep the client-agency relationship running smoothly?

In our experience, the overarching cause of client-agency tensions is driven by ineffective communication. With the two sides sometimes wanting different things, it’s inevitable that friction occurs. Building client trust can be hard, but most problems can be easily resolved if communicated early on.

Regular check-ins and meetings are a great way to prevent tensions from building. And if any problems do occur, they can often be diffused by a well-prepared catch up (or a video call these days). Let’s take a look at some of the most common client-agency problems.

1. Managing expectations

A big part of managing client expectations comes down to the project brief. A well-defined brief is like gold dust for agencies. Often, a brief will contain too much information, which the agency must then dissect. Or information will be sparse, leaving the Account and Project Managers asking more questions.

> How to fix it

Communication and an approved brief! Make sure there is a constant stream of communication with the client. And make sure that most of this communication happens early-on. There is nothing worse for a content team than a vague brief, and this is usually where most problems arise. Ensuring that a brief is well-defined saves the content team a headache and minimizes rework down the line.

2. Deadlines

Whether it’s feedback from a client, or a deliverable by the agency, missed deadlines occur on both sides. With agency workers charged to deliver a service, the onus is often put on them, but delays on the client side can also impact an agency’s schedule. In whichever way it occurs missed deadlines happen, meaning a solution is needed to both a) limit the issue occurring, and b) manage it when it does.

> How to fix it

At Fifty Five and Five, we have two people (or should I say, two types of people) who can solve this issue. The first are Project Managers, who are responsible for the timely delivery of assets. Project Managers form the main bridge between the client and the content team – they prompt deliverables on both sides.

The second is the Account Managers, who manage, in a broader sense (although the two roles overlap) the client-agency relationship. When there’s a problem to be fixed at Fifty Five and Five, we bring in both teams. The Project Manager can offer a revised timeline. The Account Manager is there to pacify, building client trust and de-escalating tensions.

3. Taking a long-term view

A great client-agency relationship is built on trust. Crucially, this trust is developed over time. Many agencies make the mistake of seeing the client relationship through a short-term lens: completing the work and profiting from it.

> How to fix it

An agency worth its salt will deliver great work in the short-term, but also look to the future. Establishing a great relationship, with frequent catch-ups and check-ins, and a more strategic approach to client deliverables (what are their goals in the long-term?) will help build a strong relationship on both sides. With a great relationship established, problems will naturally be solved more quickly. And if the lines of communication are open, both agency and client will be able to turn to one another in times of need.

 

If you’re a client looking for great marketing content, we’d love to chat with you. Whatever your ambitions, we aim to deliver the best results on every project.