Monday, August 15, 2011

The Bumper Car World of Client Relationships

Most approaches to improving client relationships are like bumper car rides: you scream, hit and move on. I believe there is a better way.

But first, what is a client relationship? It’s really the sum of all interactions (physical, verbal, virtual) between a firm/agency and a client. Interactions include a purpose or “what” is to be accomplished, like approval of a design concept. They also consist of the manner or “how” the interaction occurs, like showing a video of a concept at a meeting. The ultimate purpose of an interaction is for two parties to get something done.

Client relationships and their interactions are valued and measured on both the “what” and the “how.” Unfortunately, most clients and their agencies/firms pay a lot of attention to the “what” and not to the “how.” Failing at either gets you fired.

What’s in the “how?” It’s all the interactions with a client, each comprised of a message, medium and style. The message includes the ideas and concepts about the actual thing or product, like a design or a plan. Medium is about the vehicle used to deliver a message, like email or an in-person conversation. Style refers to the manner or way you deliver the message:  the appearance, emotion, volume and frequency. 

In the end, you have an interaction formula that looks like this: 


Creating better client relationships is about working this formula and focusing on the messages, mediums and styles in interactions. 

My next post will explain a simple method for improving these interactions. Stay tuned by signing up for Diving Journal email updates above.

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