Building a long-lasting professional partnership is a two-way street.
Both the client and the service provider benefit from a strong relationship built on a foundation of teamwork and the belief that a successful project results when both sides are in a better position than where they started.
If you work in a client-based industry, then you know a strong client relationship can make all the difference. Building strong relationships with your clients can result in receiving new projects from existing clients, great reviews, and new leads. If you’ve worked with an agency in the past, you know that as a client you need to do your part in remaining present and active while working together.
Here at Werkbot, we strive to make a positive connection with everyone we work with and hope to be viewed by our clients as a partner rather than a vendor. Through mutual respect, we have been able to build stable and long-lasting relationships with many of our clients. There are multiple factors that play a role in building a strong client relationship; here are just a few we like to keep in mind at all times while working with our clients:
Communication is key
It may sound cliché, but it’s true! Communication is key when developing a healthy professional relationship. Without open lines of communication between both sides of the partnership, a positive relationship is unlikely.
As a service provider, be sure to provide your client with multiple different ways to reach you. Some may prefer calling or speaking face-to-face, while others may be more comfortable sending an email. In the same breath, be sure to collect all contact information from your client so you can reach them quickly and as often as needed.
As a client, remember that your feedback is needed for your project to move forward. Prioritize responding to your agency contact when they reach out with a question. If you don’t know the answer, that might be the perfect time to schedule a brief face-to-face meeting to get the details ironed out.
Ask questions. Lots of them!
It’s better to ask a million questions, than to be unsure about what is expected of you. If you’re working with a client, be sure you have a broad understanding of who your client is, what they do, and what they need from you. If you’re working with an agency, you hired them as a professional with industry expertise. Make sure you clarify with them any time they use jargon that you’re unfamiliar with or there is some detail of the project that you don’t understand. Ask questions in the beginning, rather than guessing or assuming.
Do your due diligence
Get ahead of the game and research your client. Don’t wait for that initial meeting to learn about who you will be working with; the more you know, the better. Having a clear knowledge of your client and what they do will help you better meet and understand their needs.
This goes both ways, if you are hiring someone, know who you are trusting with your project. Any aspect of the business, such as differences in values or communication style, can create a barrier right from the get-go.
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses; don’t think you are the exception. While Werkbot may be hired for our expertise in digital marketing, we acknowledge that our client is an expert in their field. Both sides of the relationship can learn and gain from one another. Neither is superior.
Stick to your deadlines
Setting and keeping deadlines is important in any project. Sticking to deadlines conveys to your client that they can trust you to get things done.
It’s crucial for the client to also meet the deadlines they are given. When we build out a website we often need content, images, or simply approval from our client to move forward; if we don’t get the required responses then the website is put on hold, and our deadlines get pushed back.
Remembering the end goal at all times
Keeping your client’s end goal in mind in all stages of the project is important. Knowing you are both on the same page, working towards the same goal is a great way to build a trusting relationship. As a client, be clear with your goals and expectations for the project. You have a vision for what you want, but in order to see that come to fruition you must communicate the details to the agency you’re partnering with.
Set realistic expectations
It’s easy to go into a meeting with a client, and say yes to everything. But when it gets down to the nitty gritty, you don’t want to have to go back on your word, breaking any trust you have gained with your client. If your client inquires about something that is outside of your realm of expertise or comfort, be up-front and honest with them and suggest an alternative solution. For clients, setting realistic expectations for your project keeps everyone feeling confident that the project is on track and hitting all the appropriate milestones.
Anyone you seek to build a positive professional relationship with is more likely to trust you if you take an empathetic approach to their needs and concerns. Having empathy conveys that you care, you understand the problems that both sides of your partnership are facing as you work together to achieve a common objective, and that you can be trusted to support them in their work.
Too often, when a project goes off the rails the cause can be traced back to a lack of communication, unclear expectations, and the challenge of bringing strangers together to work as a team. While nothing is guaranteed, following these suggestions will enable you to keep moving forward and building a stronger professional relationship. The most important thing to remember when building a partnership between yourself and a client or service provider is that the success of your project is ultimately what you are both working toward.
Find your zen with Werkbot
At Werkbot, we want to help your business grow while building a trusting, long-lasting, professional relationship. We partner with businesses, nonprofits, and public agencies. If you want to expand your digital marketing but are unsure where to start, reach out to us today. We’ll be happy to guide you in the right direction.