One element of the client/agency relationship that doesn’t receive enough attention is monitoring, measuring, and reporting on the health of the relationship on an ongoing basis. Without a formal tool to track the relationship, small issues can become larger ones over time, and large issues can get you fired.

One element of the client/agency relationship that doesn’t receive enough attention is monitoring, measuring, and reporting on the health of the relationship on an ongoing basis. Without a formal tool to track the relationship, small issues can become larger ones over time, and large issues can get you fired.

RELATIONSHIP DASHBOARD

A simple tool you can implement is a relationship dashboard of key client and agency influencers – 5-6 key measures from each perspective. Baselines and goals should be set up front, and data should be captured from core members of the client and agency teams twice a year.

Some sample influencers from the client perspective could be:

– The agency produces error-free work and does things right the first time
– The agency has efficient systems that result in smooth workflow and timely project completion
– The agency ensures consistency in brand communication and acts as guardian of the brand
– The agency recommends and executes programs that help differentiate the brand from the competition

Some sample influencers from the agency perspective could be:

– The client works in a collaborative way that puts a premium on mutual respect
– The client delegates appropriate responsibility, allowing the agency to do what it does best
– The client provides clear, complete direction that helps minimize false starts and revisions
– The client involves appropriate decision-makers and allows access to senior-level executives

In addition to the dashboard, schedule regular contact between the client’s senior executive team and the agency’s senior leadership team. Whether it’s virtual or in person, do not underestimate the value of consistent touch-base calls, as well as more formal conversations like a Brand Summit, where senior members from each team get together to discuss big picture issues.

EXPECTATIONS MEETING

It also helps to clearly define expectations for the working relationship upfront. To get things started on the right foot and avoid growing pains, we recommend a formal expectations meeting with every new client that includes all key members of both teams. This meeting is an open dialogue that:

– Builds a rich, mutually rewarding relationship, discussing the values and behaviors that are most important to each organization
– Develops an understanding of potential danger signs and determines how to engage with each other if things break down
– Establishes core processes and procedures to make things run smoothly and efficiently
– Clarifies deliverables and begins to determine measurement criteria and the definition of success
– Immediately forms a collaborative team with shared expectations

At the end of this meeting, the group walks away with a detailed agreement, in writing, that describes how the relationship will work. This ensures that the entire team is working from a common base of understanding and that goals are aligned.

The relationship dashboard and expectations meeting are two great tools to get a new client/agency relationship off on the right foot… and keep it that way.