Did you know that it’s always cheaper to retain an existing client than it is to get a new one onboard? That means it doesn’t pay agency owners to overlook client management. Most full-spectrum digital marketing agencies have begun working on a series of different techniques for managing clients effectively, asking for referrals, and making sure that their interactions with both existing and potential clients remain as positive as can be.
- What is Client Management?
- The Key Tenets of Client Management
- Benefits of Managing a Good Client Relationship
- 10 Client Management Tips Recommended by Agency Owners
- Best Client Management Tools
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Customer relationship management is critical to the growth of your agency. Your clients are going to pay close attention to the quality of service that you provide to them, so it’s important that you manage client relationships effectively. Even a small thing like a delayed replies could have a significant impact on your company’s growth.
That is why you need to work on developing a suitable client management system for your company. However, a lot of agency owners fail to fully understand what client management encapsulates. So, before we begin, let’s clear some basic concepts.
What is Client Management?
Client management is a process that involves coordinating and managing interactions between a client and the organization. It has a major impact on the company’s goodwill and its ability to retain, and gain new clients.
Let’s break client management down into four distinct parts:
- Understanding the needs of your client and what they want from you
- Delivering on those requirements and providing adequate responses to their queries
- Evaluating the needs of the client even before they know it
- Focusing on targeted communications that highlight the needs of the client.
The Key Tenets of Client Management
You might have heard of a hundred different rules to follow when managing clients. But, there’s no need to over-complicate things. Here are three key tenets to improve client relationships.
Clients hate it when they don’t get the full story. If your client feels that you are not transparently sharing information, they are going to end up making assumptions. This takes the narrative out of your control. Ultimately, the management will not be seen as reliable.
Transparency is critical to manage client relationships effectively. You don’t need to bog down your client with petty details and problems. But do provide them with information in the broader sense. Make no key decisions without clearly consulting and communicating with the client. For instance, if there is an issue during the project discovery phase, notify them right away.
Clear and consistent communication is incredibly important. Keep the communication stream open with your client and make sure that someone is available whenever the client calls.
Again, don’t dump trivial information on the client – they’re relying on you to take care of most of the operations on your own. But you need to make sure that all critical information is provided to the client through a suitable mode of communication, whether it be phone, email, or personal visit. An important part of communication focuses on client reporting.
Stay Aligned with the Clients’ Goals
The information you share with the client must be aligned with their needs. Do you know the key performance indicators that the client is looking for? Your reporting needs to focus on their concerns. It’s all about understanding what the client wants, and then delivering that information on a timely basis.
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Benefits of Managing a Good Client Relationship
The advantages of managing client relationships extend far beyond running your business; they help improve your relationship with your current customers, find potential new customers, and retain those who worked with you in the past. Here are just a few benefits that you get for managing client relationships properly.
1. Enhances Customer Service
Managing good client relationships improves your overall customer service standards. Adding a personal touch to existing business relationships allows you to treat each client on an individual basis instead of focusing on them as a group.
This system allows you to adjust the level of service according to the priority status of each customer. As your company becomes more responsive and understanding, your customer service is automatically going to improve. This will create a ripple effect, reducing instances of customer agitation and frustration, and improving turnaround times as well.
2. Find New Clients
Implementing a powerful CRM system could be just what you need to find new clients for your company. It will help you keep track of your existing clientele and determine the people that you should target.
You will be getting in touch with new prospects on a regular basis, so it’s important that you utilize a CRM with email marketing software to remain in touch with new clients. For example, create a robust web development proposal for any potential web development client. You can also use other B2B lead generation strategies to find new clients.
While you are looking to get more clients, what’s also important is to generate the right leads, instead of only the wrong ones, which ultimately lead to wrong conversations. Lee Jackson, CEO of Event Engine learned it the hard way. To know more, watch out this video.
3. Increase Customer Revenues
A powerful client management tool helps in coordinating different kinds of marketing campaigns. You can tailor the program according to your needs and filter data to avoid targeting clients who have bought from you before.
This will eventually improve your customer revenues as you will be able to focus on clients who haven’t bought from you before, or those who are interested in a particular product that you offer.
4. Close Deals Faster
Implementing a CRM system helps companies close deals much faster, as it leads to more efficient responses and also allows your sales team to better facilitate clients. In this day and age, people want quick responses. If you are able to promptly answer their questions, you might be able to turn their inquiries into purchases.
5. Improve Cross and Upselling of Your Products
Cross-selling involves providing complementary products to customers based on what they have brought before. Upselling involves selling premium products that lie in the same category. By implementing a CRM system, you can improve both the cross and upselling of your products.
These systems allow you to cross-check the available data to understand client preferences and then recommend new products. With some time, the system will be able to better anticipate your clients’ requirements. You may want to consider using a few agency management software tools to manage interactions and operations better.
6. Enhances Customer Loyalty
CRM software allows you to measure customer loyalty without spending a lot of money. In most situations, your loyal customers become professional recommendations for the business, and you can use their testimonials to promote the services to prospective clients.
Instead of providing theoretical frameworks, you should target prospective clients through testimonials. Loyal customers also feel appreciated when their testimonials are used to target new customers.
7. Optimize Your Marketing Approach
The use of client management software allows your business to understand the needs and behavior of the customer. This is crucial as it allows your business to identify the correct time to market your product to the client. The software also gives the sales team much-needed information about targeting a particular client, allowing you to tailor your marketing approach.
Taking an optimized marketing approach will help you save a considerable amount of money and target only clients that are more likely to work with your business. This helps you utilize the resources of your business in a more meaningful manner. For instance, only send a request for proposal when you know it’s going to be taken into consideration.
10 Client Management Tips Recommended by Agency Owners
In the following paragraphs, we shall talk about strategies that have been adopted by experienced agency owners and managers. Let’s dig into it.
1. Respect Your Client’s Time
Sarah Franklin, the co-founder of Bluetree.ai, that it’s best to under-promise and over-deliver. She says, To maintain positive client relationships, under-promise, and over-deliver. It is an old adage but a true one. It is best to respect each client’s time. Making them feel rushed, unimportant, or taking up too much of their time can disintegrate your relationship. Offer face-to-face time and create a human connection. Attempt to know, and problem solve their needs and concerns before they even arise. I use scheduling software that allows me to access my calendar and appointments remotely, and I make myself accessible to my clients via personal and timely communication. Be relevant, be real, and be realistic with your clients.
2. Maintain Positive Relations
Jennifer Phillips, the VP of Marketing & Client Services at Traktek Partners, believes that it’s all about maintaining positive relations. She says, Maintaining a positive client relationship is crucial for the success of any agency. In our experience, communication is key! In addition to what we consider standard practice – open communication, responsiveness and flexibility – we utilize Basecamp for project and client management. This helps greatly with managing multiple clients. We utilize Basecamp for an online repository of files, messaging, contact information and requests. This allows both our clients and anyone within the agency to access details on the project at any given time.
3. Educate Your Clients
Saheen Najeeb, a digital marketing analyst at Fingent, believes in a two-pronged approach. They use the following strategies:
- Educate Clients Through Outbound Campaign: Clients love to know about product updates, changes in your business, new trends in their industry, etc. We have to educate them through these campaigns to keep them engaged.
- Periodical Client Service Team Reach Out: Once in a while, ensure your client service team schedules a call with the clients to know more about the issues they face. The main purpose is to get the client’s responses to these questions and empower the service team to triage the customer’s needs/wants and suggest solutions (up-selling). It will allow them to understand any potential issues faced by the client that they have to address.
4. Make an Employee Act as an Advocate for the Client
Joe Youngblood, the founder of joeyoungblood.com, says, Effective client management and reporting is something we’ve spent years working on and tweaking. Over the past 7 years we’ve devised a unique approach to client communications which has increased satisfaction rates and retention.
In our process currently a sales representative for our agency is given a role to act as an advocate on behalf of their client. This means they have the ability to view all relevant data to the client including; current projects, conversations, goals, and metrics. The sales representative is also given the responsibility of acting in the clients best interest by asking questions of the fulfillment team about any slowdowns, delays, or other project issues.
This process occurs internally out-of-view of the client and provides a mechanism for account executives and team leaders to realize a client might be unhappy with progress spurring them to make better attempts at communications regarding these issues.
This process is not perfect by any means, however, we’ve measured a statistically relevant increase in client retention because this advocate process helps our internal teams polish up their client-facing communications addressing what their concerns might be before the client themselves ever express them.
5. Learn to Manage Time
Shiv Gupta, the CEO of Incrementors Web Solutions, believes that it is of the utmost importance to respect the client’s time. He says, Time management is the most precious and finite resource you and your clients have when you are managing multiple clients. If you want to build healthier relationships, you have to respect their time. You should set deadlines to complete projects that are important to both marketers and clients. Clients may sometimes have unrealistic expectations and demands about timeframes, but you must also be realistic when estimating how much time you need to complete them. Moreover, you need to set clear deadlines so that your team members know how much time they have to complete specific tasks.
6. Learn Their Communication Patterns
Andrew Clark, the Marketing Strategist for Duckpin, says, Clients are people, and people have different communication patterns. This applies not only to how they receive information, but how they also share information. Is your individual client expressive, amiable, passive; maybe even dominant? Likewise, how do you communicate? It is not the responsibility of your client to adjust their communication style, it is yours. More tactical questions to consider: does your client prefer long phone calls or short emails? How diligent is your client to their own respective schedules; understanding this factor really allowed me to schedule future meetings with greater ease. In the end, be patient and kind, and regardless of how different communication preferences may be, you will get to the sweet spot with your client.
7. Involve the Client in the Process
Djordje Milicevic, who works with StableWP, says, Before even starting any work, get your client involved in the goal-setting process. This way you both stay on the same page. I like to use Pipedrive to both manage leads and existing customers. When we set goals at the beginning I make a sequence for every stage in customer relationships and this tool helps me track communication, automate repetitive administrative tasks and help me make reports with their dashboard. Following this method of work I see and address a client’s needs before they even know they exist.
8. Understand Their Needs
Mitchell Kelly, the director at Pathfinder Alliance, believes it is all about understanding your clients’ needs. He says, I had 3 clients to start with and I knew everything about them from top to bottom: their business, their products, their goals and what they needed to do to achieve them.
However, when the client book started to grow, and I needed to bring in outside help to manage things, things started to get out of control very quickly.
Scheduling client meetings was sometimes forgotten, deadlines were missed, and results suffered.
I no longer had a grip on the ins and outs of every client and my stress levels started to skyrocket.
This forced me to get better at a few basic strategies.
- Get the right project management system – We use Trello which allows us to assign tasks to employees and build out templates for any repeatable tasks (i.e. onboarding).
- Develop a watertight onboarding process – We send new clients a Google Form which gathers background information on the client (goals, KPIs etc.), facilitates them providing us access to everything we need (ad accounts, analytics accounts, CMS access etc.) and allows us to hit the ground running with minimal back and forth.
- Process everything – We use Trello card template, s so that any repeatable task has a process documented and VAs and new hires can step in and immediately be productive in our business.
- Schedule reporting and meetings – Client’s need transparency to know what we are working on and the results we’re bringing. We use Datastudio with Supermetrics to schedule monthly performance reports and meet clients in person quarterly to review progress and strategy.
9. Be Transparent
Tom Crowe of Tom Crowe Digital, says, “By far my most effective strategy is about transparency. Clients want to know exactly what is happening, when it’s happening and exactly what they’re paying for.
Whilst regular catch ups and project updates are great, the most effective method is simply to give them full access to the project tasks to be completed. Whether that’s in Asana, Trello or simply a Google Sheet, giving them the access to properly digest the whole project really breeds confidence and keeps them happy.
It also allows scope for them to feed into the project plan, for example if they want to make big changes, launch a big campaign or plan something very technical, they can help to establish its priority in the grand scheme of the strategy.
This active participation in the priority setting also helps avoid conflicts where previously clients may not have understood why other tasks were deprioritised.
10. Offer Amazing Customer Service
Leonard Parker, the founder of Destiny Marketing Solutions, believes it’s all about maintaining excellent service. He says, I have been able to manage my client’s project effectively by exceeding client expectations and providing outstanding customer service.
I make sure all my client’s projects are managed, accomplished on time, effectively by understanding your business goals and building marketing strategies that will help you accomplish your goals.
I also try all possible best to communicate with my client often so as to give them feedback on the task I am working on.
5 of the Best Client Management Tools
There is no shortage of excellent client management tools out there. But, it’s important f to make sure that you use one that best fits the needs of your agency. Most of these tools allow your business to get a clear picture of their relationship with clients and cover a range of different factors.
They include features like the sales funnel, the current marketing campaigns and several other details, as well as real-time data to help your sales team make an informed decision. To make matters easier for readers, we have compiled a list of 5 of the best client management tools.
Monday.com is a popular client management tool that is suitable for businesses of all sizes. The company offers four distinct pricing plans, starting from just $39 a month and going all the way to Enterprise, which is customized for each client. Each plan is available for a minimum of 5 users.
This program can be used to manage all kinds of clients, and since it is cloud-hosted, you can access your dashboard from anywhere. You can create a centralized CRM board and invite clients to view the roadmap for their project. It comes with an array of communication features that file your messages in one place.
You can attach notes, email clients, and maintain information with encryption on your servers. Additionally, the intuitive layout makes this a user-friendly tool to use.
Another excellent client management tool is AllClients. The company offers three pricing plans starting from $29 for one user, and going all the way to Professional ($66 for 5 users). These are billed annually. There is also a free trial that allows you to use the program for up to two weeks.
Ideal for marketing automation and managing your clients directly, AllClients allows you to filter contacts, manage workflows, set up automatic responses, and maintain a comprehensive database of all the clients you have worked with. A range of other features, like client referrals, team functions, and text to join, are also included in the program.
It comes with a complete contact management module, and also provides advanced features like auto-responders and the tools to create landing pages. It’s a web-based CRM software program that allows you to create a comprehensive email marketing system as well. It allows you to track sales efficiently and keep your clients in the loop about their project’s progress.
One of the more popular choices in the market, HubSpot is completely free. You can add unlimited users, and there are no limits on data either. There’s no expiration date, nor any hidden charges. You can also integrate HubSpot with Outlook or Gmail, and other third-party integrations can be added through the Operations Manager.
The program gives a complete overview of your sales funnel through real-time data and tracking. It also allows you to create detailed reports on individual performance, sales tracking, and productivity.
There’s an extensive reporting dashboard with features like deal tracking, company insights, website activity and even pipeline management. There’s also a fantastic communications module with a live chat option, chatbot builder, and a plethora of other tools that will help service teams like prospect tracking, ticketing, conversations, and time-to-close tickets.
Used in more than 180 countries, Zoho is often the first choice for many company owners. It comes with a 15-day trial as well and is completely free to use, though you will have to pay for some features.
Zoho has a range of automation capabilities that allow you to automate virtually all aspects of your business, and there are mobile apps for both Android and iOS as well. It allows you to manage workflows in a streamlined manner and also comes with an AI-powered assistant that gives lead predictions and allows you to close deals faster.
Zoho also has a migration Wizard to import data from other CRM systems or other spreadsheets. It offers intelligent alerts, task reminders, and gives you excellent suggestions.
Finally, we have Zendesk. There are 5 pricing plans to choose from, ranging from the Essential at $5 to the Enterprise at $99 per agent per month. Then there’s the Elite program, which costs $199 per agent per month and unlocks all the features of the program.
Zendesk is designed to be an ideal client management tool that helps improve relationships and communication with your customers and also integrates seamlessly with other CRMs. There’s a help desk tracking software to keep on top of customer queries, and you can also get updates on activity history, customer communications, as well as social data.
It allows you to track and report interactions and get quality insights into your customer behavior as well. More importantly, it helps you maintain meaningful relationships with your clients through its streamlined communications platform.
Wrapping it Up…
If you want your business to succeed in this day and age, you need to take client management seriously. Your clients will help grow your business; if one is satisfied, they will automatically bring more to your agency.
If you haven’t already, now is the time to buckle down on consumer relations and focus on providing quality services to your clients. You can use any of the provided client management tools, or you can create one in-house! Either way, it’s important that you evaluate the quality of service that you offer to your clients and constantly work to improve on it. Also, see our webinar on Mastering Client Communication Through Efficient Feedback Collection.