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Client Service: 2 Rules to Live By

I liked Jami Oetting’s Aug 24, 2015 article about the importance of regular client reviews. We need to routinely assess how our clients feel about us or risk losing them to a more empathetic or clever partner. Oetting provides a good framework of questions to ask, to tease out all the typical culprits from unmet needs to poor team chemistry.

And it’s true. All these factors contribute to the health of the client relationship, but when things start to sour it can often be traced back to one thing: The client believes the agency isn’t listening or thinking creatively about how to deliver on their ask.

Here are 2 golden rules I live by to keep clients satisfied:

#1 Call bullshit before your client does. 

Many years ago my boss and I were presenting [remarkably bad] creative to a client. I knew we were in trouble when Sandie invoked the phrase “graphic weight dispersion.” The client burst out laughing. “Bullshit,” he said. And it was.

Often times we know when something isn’t up to snuff. It’s our job to protect our clients from it, so we earn a reputation for excellence.

#2 Consider the long game.

Have you ever been to a restaurant and been told “We can’t do that. It’s not on the menu.” Or, “Yes, but I have to charge you extra.” It’s infuriating when the request is simple and can be delivered without a lot of heartache. Completely unimaginative.

Think about companies that are recognized for their exceptional client service. They don’t hide behind “it’s not on the menu.” They figure out how to make it possible so everybody wins. They go off script. They recognize that a small investment to delight clients will pay off in enduring relationships, repeat business and referrals.


The key to rock solid relationships isn’t that complex. You have to relate to your client. Comprehend and respond to what they want, instead of making up some fluffy reason on why you can’t deliver or defending sloppiness.


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