It’s Monday morning, and you have a stack full of items you need from your most difficult client, but there’s one recurring problem; you haven’t heard from them in over a week. You’ve been careful to not be too pushy, leaving a few voicemails and sending a couple of emails notifying them of specific needs. You’ve stressed the importance of communication and collaboration, but from their actions, it seems it’s gone in one ear and out the other.
Dealing with incommunicado clients can be one of the most frustrating tasks faced by an agency professional. Some clients expect amazing results while putting forth little effort on their end. As an account manager, it’s important to establish communication guidelines so everyone is on the same page. If you fail to do so, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll deliver desired results, leaving clients unhappy and causing tension to build within the relationship. Fortunately, there are simple ways to avoid having this happen.
Establish a Day and Time for a Weekly Call
Establishing a weekly call is crucial when starting a relationship with a new client. By doing this, you both have scheduled the perfect time each week to talk shop. During that time, you’ll have their undivided attention, enabling you to run down your list of executions for the week. It also opens the door for them to provide feedback on your performance.
A weekly call helps develop a comfortable relationship with your client. This gives them an opportunity to get to know you better, making them less likely to avoid contact with you. Of course, there is always the chance that the client will be a no-show to the call. But that just makes them look rude and unprofessional; the type of person you don’t want to do business with.
Curate a Set List of Goals
It’s almost impossible to be successful if you have no concept of what to accomplish. Likewise, it’s even harder to keep a client interested if they aren’t entirely sure about what they want to get out of your services.
Both the agency and the client need a clear-cut set of expectations and goals. Otherwise, it’ll only be a matter of time before the client breaks their silence, confronting you with something they wish you did different. To ensure that your client is communicating what they want out of the relationship, take time during the weekly call to agree on a list of accomplishable goals. It’ll increase their involvement with initiatives, and provide more incentive for them to check in for status reports.
Follow Up, but Don’t Be Annoying
Clients might ignore you for a number of reasons, but, for the most part, it’s because they’re extremely busy people. What you’re delivering to them might be low on their priority list, too. But, they hired you for a reason, so at the very least, remind them of specific items needed in an unobtrusive manner.
Say you send an email to a client with information you need them to provide. Unless you’re on a strict same-day deadline, spend your time and energy on other tasks and wait until the next day to follow up with another message. If they still fail to respond, wait until the next day to give them a call and leave a voice message if necessary. If you still can’t reach them, you probably won’t. Try emailing and calling them again a couple of days later for one final push.
If you need to contact your client multiple times a day, keep it to a max of two emails and one call. Anything more than that will just irritate them and make them even less likely to respond. Instead, dedicate the time you would’ve spent trying to reach them to work on other deliverables. If they’re not concerned with completing the project, you shouldn’t be either.
Find a New Point of Contact
You’re going to be interacting with one person, be it a C-level executive or a mid-level manager. As your main point of contact, it’s this person’s duty to frequently update you on company objectives and inform you of any internal initiatives. These folks tend to be busy, juggling multiple priorities, and you may not always be one of them. Unless you’re working with a one-man band, your client should have a team of smart, capable employees who can help with the day-to-day.
If your client is stretched thin, or too busy for you, inquire about members of the team who can act as a replacement. Poor communication makes them (and you) look bad and it wastes their company money. Suggesting a trusted employee to delegate some small tasks to might be all the incentive they need to relinquish the tasks permanently.
Ask for Evaluations
Sometimes poor responsiveness is reflective of a client’s satisfaction with your work. They may be so underwhelmed by your efforts that they don’t see a point in contributing to ongoing projects. Some might not express their disappointment until their contract is up and decide not to renew.
Because of this, it never hurts to ask your client to evaluate the quality of your work. Never hesitate to ask whether or not they’re satisfied with the results you’re driving, or if there is anything else you could be doing to increase their satisfaction. It gives them an opportunity to provide constructive criticism on your efforts, leading to a conversation on how you can be of better service to them.
There’s nothing more frustrating than lack of communication inhibiting the performance of a client. To avoid having to deal with an incommunicado client, establish the importance of frequent communication in the early stages of the relationship. If it’s too late for that, implement a new list of goals that you and your client agree on. Also, ask them to give an honest evaluation on the work you’ve done. And if you still can’t break through, find someone else within the company who is responsive. It will increase productivity on the account and avoid the traumatic experience of losing a client.