One of the biggest nightmares for us account managers, and one that might still hunt us, is probably when a client forsakes us without any warning and disappears into the night – leaving us confused and in wonder what could’ve been done differently. This scenario happens much more than you would think and there are several reasons for that.
The good news is that clear signs are left in the “playground” where you and your clients played. Such signs can indicate, among others, that your client is on his way out the door. Recognizing them can help you to not only prevent this unfortunate situation but also will give you the upper hand.
So, if you are managing or working with clients, you should be able to identify the pre-signs. In return, it can give you a better understanding of what goes through your client’s mind. As an advertiser, these are the must-have e-commerce campaigns that you should always have on Google Ads.
5 signs which indicate that your client is about to leave
1. A foreign factor suddenly appeared on one of the platforms
If one morning you see that your client gave an external user access to its media account, this might mean bad news. On one hand, this might not make a difference, if the foreigner is from the client’s accounting team, checking financial issues on the platform.
Confronting the client about it will likely not lead to a confession. They will probably state it has nothing to do with your agency. Thus, this might be a good time to pull out the big guns and show your client how crucial you are to the activity.
2. Communication with the client has changed
As the American writer Peter F. Drucker said, “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.” In that context, a few communication matters might come up:
They are responding too much
A complaining client indicates that there is engagement within the activity. Yet, we all know people have better usage of their time than to call and complain about every little thing. If you see that one of the clients is calling frequently regarding problems that are seemingly very small, it can indicate that they are unsatisfied with your work.
In that matter, try handling the complaint fast and don’t let them wait while keeping them personally involved in the resolution process.
The client has become unresponsive
While a criticizing client is a bad sign, an unresponsive client is even worse. If all your “standard” communication channels such as calls, e-mails, messages are not answered, it might indicate something bad is happening regarding your cooperation.
This can be a good time to schedule a high-priority meeting. You shouldn’t let things get to the point of no response from the client’s side. Continuous week-to-week communication should be your standard.
3. The client is minimizing your part in the activity
Your client might start reducing the advertising budget that was allocated for your activity or even assigning a new activity to a competitor agency.
Such actions can indicate that they are trying to set the board for their departure. In this case, you need to be highly sensitive and aware of the situation. Try offering the client a better, more suitable solution for handling the activities in question.
A more direct approach can be a good idea as well – try asking for feedback and see if something happened on your end that led to the decision of minimizing your activity.
4. The client has replaced or downgraded your Point of Contact
Your high-performing contact in the client’s company might be promoted or re-positioned one day. Such an “incident” can result in a new Point of Contact (POC), who’s not aware of how much you have achieved so far, or how important you are to the activity.
In these cases, you should make your new POC part of the working process ASAP while emphasizing your strengths and good accomplishments.
5. The client is mentioning the contract
If you notice that the client starts speaking a bit more like an advocate than a client, citing parts of the contract regarding what you need or don’t need to do – this might be a bad sign.
When the client starts quoting from the contract it might indicate that the client feels you are not fulfilling your part of the deal and that they are unhappy.
This is the point where you should take a more personal approach, asking your client if they’re unhappy, and what you can do to keep them satisfied.
Once the real problem is revealed, remind the client that your job is to always do more than what you’re obligated to do contractually, and if they are unsatisfied – they should bring it up right away.
4 processes inside your agency that can cause your client to leave
Despite the many client-side based signals indicating the client is about to leave, some issues may arise from your digital agency side, that may shake your relationship with the client, and make them drift away.
1. The client’s POC in your agency has left
As your employees gain more and more experience, they will either progress within the organization or unfortunately leave to find their next adventure. This might make the client feel forsaken, especially if a good interpersonal connection was created between your former employee and the client.
In such cases, it is highly recommended to take preventive steps and make a trip to the client’s office, with the soon to be ex-POC from your agency. This will help calm the client and assure him that he is in good hands.
2. Changes within your organization’s administrative level
Similarly, your agency might have a new CMO that will dictate a new list of priorities and change the work methods. In such cases, you should balance the scales by stepping your communication up a notch with the client.
For example, you can change the reporting system and create automated reporting which reflects transparency. Such measures will make the client feel they are being taken care of, despite organizational changes.
3. Someone messed up (we are all humans after all)
Most PPC Account managers will admit, at least once, that some mistakes were made, within their digital advertising activity. It can be due to an overload of work, upcoming special events that make the audience behave differently, and so on.
When working with digital advertising platforms such as Google Ads / Facebook / LinkedIn etc., bugs and errors can inevitably occur on occasion. Ideally, you should always be on the alert by defining your settings properly beforehand. But, for cases in which special preparations weren’t made, you have to treat them gently, professionally, and with a more severe degree than the client does.
Keep in mind that although being honest and sincere is always the right choice, you should consider contacting your POC within the digital advertising platforms, and ask for their help addressing such issues. Try to turn the wheel back.
4. Poor performance – the client is losing money
Sometimes you’ve done an amazing job setting up a campaign, but it just doesn’t deliver any results. There can be many reasons for such cases but the most important first step is to inform the client and make them a part of the decision-making process.
Start by making the client a part of the thinking process. They might shed a different light on the situation because they are not PPC experts. Carry on by emphasizing the tools within your toolbox and consult with them to find a solution together and share feedback.
What you shouldn’t do is ‘to act’ like everything is fine and to convince your client (and yourself) that it will get better. Also, many account managers are too proud to consult the client because they are experts. Remember that the clients know their business and can provide you useful insights.
Preventing a client to even think about leaving is obviously the best scenario. And although each client is different, each one with their respective goals, there are universal actions you can take which will make him or her extremely happy with your service.
7 actions you can take to prevent a client from leaving
As an Account Manager, there are several things you can do which will signal your client that you are a valuable person to work with. In fact, these things are valid for every person who provides services and works with clients of any kind.
1. Ask questions
Understanding your clients’ concerns before they become an issue is a crucial aspect of your job. The best way to prevent this snowball effect is asking (the right) questions. By doing so, you might ‘stumble’ on valuable information.
Let’s say your client is a marketing manager or a CMO of a company. You can ask: “What do you think is currently the business’ main challenge?”. The answer will indicate to you what the main problem in the clients’ eyes is thus revealing an important pain point.
2. Mind the gap
Whether you admit it or not, there is always a conceptual gap between you and your client. After all, you both work in slightly different worlds. Such gaps can potentially be a very common gap, which is easy to overcome, like differences in professional jargon or terminology.
True story – we were working with a client for whom the word ‘campaign’ meant a long-term project that involves a large team. For us, ‘campaign’ means configuring and activating some settings on one of the advertising platforms.
These gaps in perception can have a negative influence on your relationship with your client. It is your responsibility to make sure you both ‘speak the same language’.
3. Schedule a recurring meeting
Designating a time frame in which you talk to your client, allows you to maintain immediate non-mediated time with them. Or even better, schedule recurring meetings face-to-face or video meetings with them. This time frame will enable you to “feel” the surface and identify problems in advance.
4. Build a genuine connection
Setting time in your schedule will also help you to build a personal, genuine connection with your client. That way, you will be able to catch up not only on the week-to-week work routine but will also help you get familiarized with the actual person behind the ‘client’.
Try starting the conversation with a personal question like: “Is that a new watch?” or “How was your daughter’s wedding?”. You can even write down notes to talk about in your next meeting. Whatever method you choose, remember that personal connections are much stronger than business connections, thus investing time in them is important.
The client is the boss, and as such, he or she needs to know what’s going on. Make them aware of the good things and bad things, while making sure you explain how you’re going to improve bad results if such exist.
- Your reports should contain clear value – A good report should include a brief summary of the activity so far, an approximate forecast regarding the changes in results, and a reference to the KPIs you have set. Presenting data and insight in your report is equally important.
- Your reports should be automated – I find automated reports extremely valuable to my work, not because they are accurate but they also save a lot of time on repetitive tasks and calculations. Yet probably the highest benefit of automated reporting is making the client feel that you are on top of any issue.
6. Make the client a part of the process
You need to let them be a part of the decision-making process (though the hard-work remains on you obviously – that’s what you’re here for).
Making your clients feel that they are part of the process, and even teaching them a thing or two about the job being made, has proven to be very successful. Why? Because they understand better what you do, the problems you face hence the value of the results you provide.
7. Honesty is the best policy
We already saw that sometimes mistakes happen. Eventually, when working with different software, things are not always in our control and might cause unexpected blunders. In such cases, honesty is an especially valued feature for most. Talking to your client at eye level and explaining the situation, can help you to position the client on your team.
Always make sure that your honesty is accompanied by a relaxing, in-control approach that will make your client certain that even if problems surface, you have the solutions.
The bottom line
Client management is a complex, delicate process in which you have to build trust and establish yourself as a professional in the eyes of your clients. By building strong connections, listening to the clients’ needs, and being honest when things go wrong, you will manage to prevent unwanted outcomes in the future while keeping them pleased with your service.
Having said that, there are different uncontrollable situations like inner management changes within the client’s company or within your agency that might cause your clients to leave (or consider it). Be aware of the signs that can indicate that your client is unhappy about something and act to change it.
Stay proactive and hands-on! Remember that your clients deserve your best effort – accompanied by a smart, thought-through strategy. By doing so, you will be able to position yourself as the agency your client needs, when they need it.