Behind your client's back

June 19, 2016

Behind your client's back

How you talk about your clients, when they are not around, is a direct reflection on you - your maturity, care and professionalism.

We all have frustrations with our clients (ugh, clients, who needs them?! Oh, yeah, we do).

It's inevitable that you will experience exasperating situations with your clients, and then seek to "vent" to your colleagues. It happens. The trouble with venting is that it usually carries subversive undertones:

  • It throws a spotlight on how you personally handle difficult situations.
  • It sends a message to other staff members that speaking ill of your client is OK.
  • It is a measure of how much you respect your clients.
  • It may not be paint a full picture of what is going on.
  • It undermines the value of your client to your agency.

(And what would happen if your client ever got wind of what you were saying?!) 

TRUE STORY:

The account management team at Acme Agency decided to set up a "wall of shame" in their open plan office. Jobs that had major issues were tacked up, along with added "colourful commentary". The comments were there for all to see - including clients walking past the account managers' desks.

Do you see something wrong with this picture?

It's easy to think about your clients in an "us and them" kind of way, as though you were in a business tug-o-war with only one possible victor. This type of mindset is guaranteed to lead to animosity and frustration (on both ends of the rope). The reality should be that you work together as a team, both heading toward a win-win outcome for both client and agency.

Next time when you encounter a frustration with your client (and there will be a next time), just take a d-e-e-e-p breath. Spend a few seconds looking at the situation from your client's perspective, and then, whatever you were about to say, say something totally different. Voila! Another subversive outburst cleverly averted!

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