Client-First Health Check

March 16, 2014

Client-First Health Check, AM-Insider article by Sarah Ritchie

Did you realise that (usually) 100% of our revenue comes from our clients, and - therefore - our clients pay our wages? Once we realise the vital role that our clients have - as the lifeblood of our agencies - we should begin to take all our client interactions far more seriously. 

100% of our revenue comes from our clients, therefore our clients pay our wages!  –  Sarah Ritchie


One way to determine how much your are either delighting or disappointing your clients is to conduct a Client-First Health Check on your agency. 

GOAL: to eliminate or minimise all obstacles that keep you and your agency from delivering a great client experience. You will want to create a client experience that is so good, it inspires your client to tell others about it, thus creating referrals.

The following is a list of Client-First objectives that every agency could adopt. Each of these points will affect your client either directly or indirectly, and all will help to shape the opinion that your client forms about your business. Remember that EVERYONE (not just Account Managers) will contribute to the overall client experience...general manager, accountant, designer, cleaner...

In addition, some of the points could be adopted as KPIs on either a company-wide basis or for individuals.
If you choose to create KPIs, then here is a quick overview of how the KPIs can be set up and monitored:

  • STEP 1:  Decide what objectives you wish to measure (4 - 8 is a good start) and set your targets.
  • STEP 2:  Set the time period for measuring the KPIs (could be a repeating period, rolling time period or fixed period).
  • STEP 3:  Assign numerical values to the KPI range (e.g. 1 to 5 where 1 is poor, 5 is best; number of touch points achieved 1 - 3, 4 - 6, 7 - 9, etc).
  • STEP 4:  Measure.
  • STEP 5:  Analyse. Some questions you could ask: Have our profits increased? Has our client base increased? Have our number of jobs increased? Have the number of enquiries increased? Has the awareness of our agency increased? Has our client loyalty increased?


  • respond quicker
  • brief quicker
  • speed up proposal/quote turnaround times
  • ensure quotes are accurate and fair
  • fulfil promises
  • set realistic timeframes
  • monitor deliverables for timeliness, accuracy and excellence
  • communicate well with clients
  • communicate well with colleagues
  • listen better to clients (do you know your client's needs?)
  • handle complaints quickly and well
  • answer client queries quickly
  • tell your client what you can do, rather than what you can't do
  • be honest and sincere
  • build trust and rapport
  • be reliable
  • send client birthday cards
  • send handwritten thank you notes
  • send client gifts based on individual likes
  • send invoices out on time
  • ensure invoices are accurate
  • ensure invoices have order numbers where needed
  • notify clients of any additional charges before invoicing
  • ensure timekeeping is accurate
  • assess efficiencies in job control
  • assess efficiencies in production planning
  • maximise turnaround times
  • work within budgeted hours
  • keep processes tight
  • eliminate or minimise internal errors
  • hit design brief first time
  • keep bathrooms spotless
  • keep office environment tidy and professional
  • keep desks tidy and professional
  • keep rubbish out of sight
  • lolly jar at reception
  • have a decent coffee machine
  • be able to offer your clients coffee/tea/hot chocolate/juice/biscuits/nibbles/lunches where appropriate
  • assess client parking (availability; ease of getting to you; proximity to building; cost to park / can you make it free to park?)
  • assess first impression client has of your agency (receptionist, reception area, comfort level, smiles, warmth of greeting, beverage offered)
  • assess phone message/system (ensure it is welcoming, helpful, easy-to-navigate)
  • answer phones within three rings
  • monitor any music in the agency (appropriateness, sound level)
  • plan Client-First agency events (e.g. Christmas in July, seminars, etc)
  • assess agency website (essential information easy to find; up-to-date; modern UX; all services listed; easy and quick to see what you offer)
  • assess your agency blog/Facebook/Twitter/other social media (does the content align with your services/vision/future goals/market/clients' needs?)
  • assess how innovation from your agency can be improved
  • assess how information/communication from your agency can be improved (e.g. eNewsletter)
  • assess how your range of services can be improved
  • assess how you can make your services more widely available
  • assess the pricing of your services
  • assess how your team handles complaints
  • determine if staff members need specific training to plug gaps in knowledge/skills/potential
  • can you offer reporting/analysis regularly to your clients for added value?
  • do you need to form strategic alliances to offer a wider/better service?
  • do your have a vision for your agency? Does your team know what it is? Do they buy into it?
  • do you have a "client promise" (4-6 things: "when you do business with us, we will...")
  • conduct client experience survey (find out if your clients are getting the experience you want them to have, and feed the results back to your team)


"Every job is a self-portrait of the person that did it. Autograph your work with excellence and caring." (anon)


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