Arment Dietrich

Defining Client Service

By: Arment Dietrich | June 20, 2012 | 

Today’s guest post is written by Molli Megasko.

During the past few weeks I’ve had the unfortunate experience of working with different parties on some projects we’re doing for clients.

Because I sit on both side of the fence of client service (both giver and receiver), I’ve learned a few things from the recent phone calls, emails, and hair pulling.

I’ve discovered my true definition of client service.

Client service, I’ve learned, is subjective.

I’d like to share with you what I think makes for perfect client service.

  • Listen.  As communication professionals sometimes it’s hard to stop talking and to listen. This is the foundation to any communication, either online or off. We have to listen.  Step two is to take what you heard, digest the information, and create a plan.  What bothers me most is when you feel like someone is listening, but they still use what they were planning on saying regardless of what you’ve just said.
  • Manage expectations.  This is a tough one. As an agency we want to please our clients and try to grant their every wish.  But what I’ve learned is, it’s worse to say you are going to do something than to have to go back and explain why you didn’t do it.  Managing expectations comes in two forms:
    • Keep the train on the tracks. Some clients want the world and that’s great; that’s why we are here.  But it’s also our job to stay on track with the strategy. Running in too many directions might not get the long-term results we planned. It’s OK to push back when we don’t feel the train is going in the right direction.
    • Educate. CEOs and vice presidents don’t have the time to learn all about the social web and where they should focus, for example.  It’s our job to continuously educate our clients, not just on what the end result will be, but what it takes to get there and if the end goal is worth it.
  • Solve problemsdon’t make excuses.  If I were to rank these, this would probably tie for number one. In today’s digital age, we’re all learning. Things are not always going to work out the way we might have anticipated. This may be due to lack of knowledge, lack of effort, or it simply didn’t pan out this time.With that said, the excuse of, “You didn’t give us enough time” or “You didn’t give us what we needed” is BS.  As marketing partners for our clients we need to make things work and if they don’t, we say what we did wrong and what we are going to do to fix it.
  • Understand the business.  This should really be two points here, understanding the business goals and understanding the business. So let’s break it down:
    • Understand the business goals. A solid plan cannot be developed without understanding what the business goals are; not just in terms of selling more stuff (if that is the direction of the goal) but how many?  By when?  What does next year look like? Five years from now? Make sure everything you do affects increased revenues, improved margins, or a shortened sales cycle.
    • Understand the business. It is also our job to know everything about the business and the industry; the products, the people, the competitors, the trade magazines, the events and shows, the lingo and jargon, the list goes on and on.

There, I’m off my soapbox, but that did feel great.

How would your define perfect client service?

  • I’ve found that the one about managing expectations is the toughest. Clients come in with preconceived notions, or are always used to getting things their way, in their timing. And if you don’t manage the expectations, everything will fall apart. they’ll say that what you are doing for them isn’t working, they’ll get impatient, just won’t be happy in general. 
    Managing expectations needs to be up front and proactive, rather than reactive. 

    • MolliMegasko

       @KenMueller Could not agree more.  Client service has a lot of educating in it.  It might be the client, your team, and, well, mainly yourself.

  • Managing expectations is definitely the most challenging in my experience, but absolutely the most critical piece in the whole affair.  I think it also comes back to understanding your business’s core competencies and delivering your best work possible. 

    • MolliMegasko

       @jasonkonopinski If you don’t understand the business then you can’t set realistic expectations.  Its one big circle, I actually don’t think one weighs more than the other.

  • Jessietskxqe
  • Be still my beating heart! I’m so proud of you, Molli!

    • MolliMegasko

       @ginidietrich Thanks boss!

  • These are great tips! Managing expectations should also include not over promising. I always go about the rule of under promising and over delivering. Works for me 🙂

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  • The post is really helpful for the for new commerce about managing.

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