Managing expectations is one of the most fundamental and important aspects of an account manager's job.
The three areas that will impact a client's expectations the most are: scope, schedule and budget. Your client needs to know what will happen, when it will happen, and how much it will cost, plus the consequences of changing the scope, extending or shortening the schedule, or reducing the budget.
It's all about excellent, consistent and clear two-way communication, and both parties knowing what they need to know AHEAD OF TIME; examples of this could include:
- Supply all quotes prior to the work commencing, and make sure they are approved.
- Ensure you get written sign-off (or approval) on all quotes, proposals, proofs and storyboards, so you are confident that your client is on the same page as you.
- Inform your client of any changes to the quote (resulting from author's alterations or changes to the specifications).
- Explain, up front, the process of how the job will proceed and what the client can expect.
- Keep your client up-to-date with timelines and progress. If milestones have to move, then let them know.
- Keep the email or phone communication going. Your team may be busy beavering away in the background, but if the client only hears silence, they may think nothing is progressing.
Think about the customer experience that you create for your client. If you were them, how would you feel about the process they have just been through? Was the scope, schedule and budget clearly communicated and adhered to? Were there any issues, and what could you do better next time?
By consistently meeting (at the minimum) or exceeding expectations you will not only retain your clients, but turn them into champions who will spread the good word about your agency far and wide to their colleagues and friends.
Sarah Ritchie is the founder of AM-Insider - a website bursting with tips, tricks and resources to create account management superstars in the advertising, design, PR, experiential and print industries. Sarah has been involved in account management for 25 years and has a passion for encouraging, mentoring and helping others succeed.
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