Fans of the movie “Jerry Maguire” know the expression “help me help you” quite well. The phrase came to mind while reading a blog entry from Hightail called The Agency Game: 10 tips for working with agencies, and some of the maxims struck me as not always helpful or fitting in all scenarios. For example, the first piece of advice “Assign a dedicated contact” is not adequate. Oftentimes you actually need at least two contacts: both an account person who works on budgets, tracking deliverables, and invoicing and a project manager who manages the day-to-day steps required for projects. If one person is out, the other can help, making two dedicated contacts actually much better than one.
So, I plucked out the two pieces of advice that I think truly do make a considerable improvement in all professional-services-to-client relationships. (I say “professional services” because Ideba considers itself the “non-agency” and avoids such a label.) They are the only two of the ten tips that always hold true, they are: 1) develop personal connections, and 2) schedule regular meetings. To me, there are obvious exceptions to the other eight tips.
When I think back over my past 25 years in professional services, those clients that had me come to their workplace, showed me their demo areas, and introduced me to engineers or others not directly part of our project were successful in conveying their culture. They created the best relationships, made the best connections. They were the longest lasting and most integrated collaborations because I was able to learn the values and uniqueness of the client’s company through immersion. The development of personal connections has the highest value of all advice I would give a would-be client.
Second to that would be to schedule regular meetings. Even if they occasionally get canceled due to vacations or inactivity in a given period, putting meetings on the books truly does keep matters on track. The routine check point is a proven way to assure that attention never wanes: next deliverables will be questioned and a status will be provided from both sides.
Those are my top two tips to help me help you. Share your thoughts on what works best in your services relationships with a comment.
–Mark Salow, Consultant