Coping in Client Service

This is a blog post I wrote for my company’s website and newsletter. It’s all about working in client service. If you ever feel like the most hated person at your organisation or people hide behind office pot plants to avoid you demanding work from them –  then this is for you. 

Middle men – they’re everywhere. Insurance companies use them, banks use them, even the healthcare industry uses them (need meds? Sorry – you’ll have to go through a Doctor first). So why then, are these middle men some of the most despised people in the work place? Think about adverts you’ve heard or seen recently – large corporations proudly bragging how they’ve cut out that middle man – they’ve gone ‘direct’. Even a certain hippo has jumped in on the no middle man buzz word.

I tend to disagree with the theory of the missing middle man – as us working in client service are exactly that – you could call it an occupational hazard – we bridge the gap between client and our team, and to me that’s an incredibly valuable role.

Those in client service often refer to themselves as the soldiers of the team – we go into battle every single day and going unprepared can often be fatal – if not for the person, for the client relationship.

As a client service person I have thought long and hard about my role within iProspect. I have to be a jack of all trades, yet am master of none. I deal with client requests, meetings and demands and I need to ensure that what the client wants is exactly what is fed back to the team. With this in mind, I’ve come up with 7 important steps to avoid the dreaded broken telephone syndrome between client and the team executing the work.

  1. Know your shit. This goes without saying but it is vitally important to have a holistic understanding of what your company offers and what your client needs. This means doing your research, learning the lingo and ensuring you know enough about the request to relay it back to the team who needs to make it happen.
  2. Ask questions. I have very quickly learnt that it’s easier to ask a question, than it is to ask for forgiveness. The world of digital is tricky at the best of times, and things change every day. It is perfectly acceptable to confirm or clarify something with your client before implementing the wrong work for them. You don’t want to be that person who gets their GDN crossed with ORM or their SEO. Know what I’m saying?
  3. It takes a team to become an army. Regardless of how Suzy in accounts has sent the incorrect invoice or James in media ‘forgot’ to do the very important, time-critical report for your very important high paying client – smile, nod, agree, mollify, assure it will be fixed and never throw your team mates under the bus. It is imperative that a client sees you and your team as a solid and united front. One crack in your façade and they will pounce.
  4. Follow up. On everything. Take notes, send minutes, keep status documents and make sure you leave a paper trail for everything you do. Yes, this may seem laborious and time consuming but it can be a lifesaver when it comes to sorting out any issues that may occur.
  5. Be honest. Nobody knows everything – although some may think they do. Things are bound to go wrong. The worst possible thing you can do when that happens is start pointing fingers or ignoring it until it (hopefully) goes away. Suck it up, apologise and commit to fixing your mistakes. Your clients and colleagues will respect you so much for it.
  6. Feedback. I got married last year and planned the entire wedding. At one point my now husband sadly accused me of leaving him out of the entire event. I was confused, I knew exactly what I was doing, my suppliers knew what they were doing and everything was on track. What I happened to forget was that just because I was managing something 100% I hadn’t told him that – and my silence to him read like I was hiding something. Remember – keep in touch with your clients and make sure they know that you are on top of thing at all times. Just like a quiet toddler in the next room means trouble, so does a quiet client service person.

And lastly

7. Communicate. Emails are great, but to the person on the receiving end your ‘brief’ may be as vague as a parliamentary budget speech. Pick up the phone, arrange a meeting and make sure that everyone is on the same page. This extra work will result in a massive time saving when the client receives work that is on par with their request.

You can read the original article here

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