Client services and account management practices are rarely smooth sailing, no matter which agency you work for or which clients you work with. The positions are regularly faced with challenges from clients that require resolution. These challenges can range from financial issues to shifts in client priorities, as well as client understanding or previous experience of your industry.
We wanted to talk you through some of the most common challenges that the Client Services team experience at Branded3, and give you some tips on how to overcome them.
Without a doubt the biggest and most occurrent challenge that we face are budgets. Whether the issue is initial limitations on budget size or clients needing to reduce budgets, this presents a challenge to all Account Managers.
So, here’s a scenario for you.
For the last year, your client has been working with a budget of X. This budget has been split between departments to ensure their strategic objectives are hit, but going into a new financial year, they have had to reduce the budget due to business requirements.
This new budget is going to reduce the amount of resource available for your agency and the departments within it. So, the alarm bell that must be going off right now is “How do we still achieve what the client wants?” The answer – prioritisation!
Review your strategy or roadmap and outline what you believe are the key priorities for the client, then present these back to them outlining the benefits and results. This is the opportunity to find out what their priorities are, and for you to evaluate which should be implemented and when.
Explaining how the budget allocated will be used to achieve their goals will help build or strengthen your relationship with your client. For more advice read our 5 tips to building long lasting client relationships guide.
Return on investment
Another challenge that we regularly face when making strategic recommendations is ultimately having the recommendations implemented. A common query from clients is “What is the return on investment for this?”
Unfortunately, within SEO, a lot of the recommendations we make don’t provide an immediate or measurable return on investment.
Therefore, to overcome this challenge you need to establish an effective way to get your recommendations implemented by the client – we highlight 6 key ways to get recommendations implemented here which will help you in overcoming this client barrier.
All clients will have varying levels of knowledge within your industry. As an SEO agency, we find some clients who have previously worked in the industry in SEO specific roles will have extensive experience, whereas others have only had minimal contact with it.
For clients with less knowledge and experience in SEO, we ensure that all tasks and recommendations that we are implementing clearly explain three things:
- The process being followed
- The reason why we have recommended them
- What we are going to achieve by actioning them
Clients with experience of SEO can minimise some of the challenges you might face, but can also present others. A client who has worked in SEO will understand the industry and the recommendations being made which makes selling it into their wider business much easier and increases the likelihood of implementation client side.
Some clients may have experience based on previous practice that they have used before, which may differ from the approach that you are proposing. This can be a difficult challenge to overcome, as some clients don’t like to stray from what they know.
However, understanding why they are concerned will help you overcome this. Asking the client for their reasons for preferring another approach and then explaining the proposed process thoroughly and the benefits afforded to it will show them how it compares to their previous experience, and how it will be more effective.
The final and probably one of the most inevitable challenges that you will face from a client are ad-hoc requests. Set the scene: you’ve spent time devising the strategy, prioritising tasks according to resource, everything is going to plan and then suddenly an ad-hoc request comes in.
You could just shift the roadmap back and postpone tasks that were forecasted to make room for this request, but those tasks were a high priority and would be beneficial to the overall strategy. So, what can you do?
Our recommendation would be to evaluate which task will have the greatest benefit to the client. If it’s the ad-hoc request, you can adapt the roadmap to fit it in. If it isn’t, explain the situations to the client and illustrate the benefit of completing the tasks in the roadmap as a priority.
Ultimately, the client will make their own decision about which they will want to proceed with, but explaining the benefits of the prioritised tasks and the potential negative impact of not completing them may have will help you to overcome this barrier.
As you will see from reading these key challenges, there is a recurring theme among the ways you can overcome them. Effective communication with the client, the ability to prioritise, and adaptability are key skills that will help you overcome the majority of challenges that you may encounter, and ensure that you have successful projects and happy clients.