There’s no denying that annoying clients exist. But as we all know, there are two sides to every story, and agencies aren’t completely innocent of being annoying as well.
This is to be expected since client collaboration can be challenging and not every client-agency relationship is rock-solid. While there’s no guaranteed way to have a hassle-free relationship with your clients, there are ways to make the client relationship and collaboration easier.
Take a look at the list below and ask yourself, “Am I guilty of making any of these mistakes that are probably annoying my clients?”
6 Ways you may be annoying your clients
1. You’re communicating too slowly
There isn’t a defined rule across all business relationships regarding response time to an email or phone call, but not responding to clients in a timely manner is certain to cause confusion, frustration, and annoyance.
Some clients expect a response by the end of the business day, while others are content with receiving a response within a 24 or 48-hour window. Either way, delayed responses will surely annoy your clients and likely make them question what they’re paying you for.
How to avoid this:
- Clarify rules of communication during the client onboarding process. Set up a response timeframe that both parties feel fair, and that both sides agree to adhere to. You should also set up a process for urgent messages (e.g. Can they call or text the primary point of communication after a certain time of day?).
- Schedule times in your day for emailing and returning phone calls. For example, pick two times throughout your workday in which you sort through your inbox and voicemail, and respond to any emails and phone calls that require a response.
- Appoint a backup responder for times you’re unavailable. If you know you won’t be available at a certain time – whether you’re on vacation, in a meeting, etc. — assign another team member to respond to all emails and phone calls during that time. Let clients know about this change beforehand so that there is no confusion or annoyance when they receive a response from somebody else.
- Always respond before your set time limit is up. No matter what timeframe guidelines you clarified with your client — even if you decided a 48-hour window — it’s always a good idea to respond within 12 hours (24 hours at the most) whenever possible. This shows respect, courtesy, and dedication, increasing your chances of client retention later on down the road.
- Verify that you’ve seen their email and will get back to them. If you don’t have an answer to their question or issue immediately, or don’t have time to provide an in-depth response, at least shoot them a quick acknowledgment saying that you’ve seen their email, you’re looking into it, and will respond as soon as possible.
- Create a Slack Channel for the team to use. Since Slack enables the entire team to see what’s going on with the communication process, it creates complete transparency between everybody. It also reduces the need for constant email correspondences, which makes for a faster and easier communication process.
2. You’re leaving them out of the process
Whether intentional or not, many agencies build a wall around their work, leaving the client out in the cold. Since most clients don’t like surprises and prefer to know what’s going on, this causes frustration and distrust. Unless your clients state they prefer to be completely hands-off the project, there’s no better way to annoy them than to leave them out of the business process altogether.
How to avoid this:
- Involve clients from the start. Unless they request that you take complete control of the reigns, your client should be not only your teammate but your greatest collaborator.
- Specify roles and expectations. During the onboarding process, clarify what is expected from all team members — what roles everyone will play in the business relationship, various responsibilities, etc.
- Be honest and disclose all information. For example, if you outsource any part of your work, let your client know. They hired you to get the work done, so as long as it gets done, chances are, they may not care how it happens.
- Provide regular updates. No matter how much you communicate via email, Slack, etc., you should still schedule a routine phone call to check-in with the client and update them on your progress. However busy you may be, it’s still better to sacrifice some of your time than to diminish trust and damage the overall client-agency relationship.
- Use collaboration software. Even if your client doesn’t feel the need to track everything you’re working on, at least give them the option to do so in case they change their mind. It’s an act of good faith and by showing them that you have nothing to hide, you increase their trust in you.
To that point, Instapage provides the first and only post-click landing page collaboration solution with integrated collaboration capabilities for marketing teams and agencies. It allows clients and agencies to share and respond to comments, provide feedback, and resolve issues, all right within the platform and in real-time.
With the Instapage Collaboration Solution, there are no more marked-up screenshots and running commentaries across multiple, unconnected channels like email, messaging apps, or project management tools to deal with. Just simplified communication from start to finish.
3. You’re acting like a know-it-all
Many agencies feel obligated to always have an answer — to always say the right thing to clients: “Of course we can increase your conversion rate by 50%!” — But nobody can know the answer to absolutely everything, or know exactly how things are going to turn out. And acting like you know everything when you don’t, is bound to annoy and frustrate your clients.
How to avoid this:
- Let the client speak. Let them openly express their feelings, thoughts, and ideas. If they come to you with an issue, don’t downplay it.
- Listen to them. To show your client that their success is important to you, you must make them feel heard and understood. You must be just as good at listening to them as you are at proving your value and delivering results. After all, good communication is just as much about listening as it is speaking.
- Don’t try too hard to impress them. There’s a big difference between demonstrating your abilities and acting like a know-it-all. For example, interjecting at every opportunity to try and prove that you know everything is not going to impress your client; it’s only going to irritate them.
- Admit your mistakes. Nobody is perfect, so if you make a mistake or fail to deliver, own up to it and apologize. Don’t immediately go on the defense, even if it’s not completely your fault. And if you don’t know the answer to something — rather than pretending to — just admit it, and tell them that you’ll find the answer for them.
4. You’re using the wrong terminology
Words are hard, and what you say to clients can frustrate, belittle, or even mislead them about a project altogether. This primarily falls into two categories:
- Words that may be difficult for all clients to comprehend. This would be industry jargon, buzzwords, and acronyms that not all clients are familiar with or understand. The most common examples include (but are not limited to): retargeting, paradigm, omnichannel, low-hanging fruit, programmatic, CTR, CRM, and KPI.
- Words that could give clients the wrong idea. Some words and phrases can also cause clients to question your motives. For example, “with all due respect” and “to be honest” are likely to put clients immediately on the defense.
How to avoid this:
- Avoid industry jargon and acronyms. Unless you’re absolutely sure the client understands what an acronym stands for or what a buzzword means, stick to the full, simpler terms. Don’t use words in your written communication (emails, Slack, and text messages) that you wouldn’t use during verbal communication (in person or on the phone).
- Avoid certain words and phrases. When highlighting an issue, it’s critical to watch your wording, because sometimes even a well-intentioned phrase can be misconstrued as offensive or insulting.
- Bite your tongue. No relationship is perfect, and disagreements with clients are bound to occur. Rather than giving it right back to a client who is being rude or acting like a know-it-all, it’s best to take a step back, show self-restraint, and stay away from offensive statements — even if they’re warranted.
5. You’re missing deadlines
Because so much trust stems from meeting deadlines and sticking to agreements, some clients would argue that missing a deadline — and not delivering what was promised — is the most frustrating thing an agency can do.
Meeting a deadline likely means a lot more to the client than it means to you as the agency, because for the client, it’s an entire calendar full of set launch dates, promotions, additional marketing activities, etc. Those dates and activities depend on your agency completing your part of the project.
How to avoid this:
- Look into the future. Instead of just focusing on what is right in front of you, think through every step of your entire process. What information will I need down the road? What potential roadblocks could exist and how would I overcome them? By looking ahead and addressing these concerns early on, you can limit the chance that you’ll miss any deadlines.
- Multitask when possible. Oftentimes, agencies think of projects in a step-by-step manner, and approach them in this way. Although not always possible, it’s sometimes helpful to think about tasks concurrently, and to have different agency team members working on different activities at the same time.
- Only promise what you can deliver. Don’t make promises to your clients that are unrealistic, or that you may not be capable of keeping. To be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to under promise, so that you can over deliver.
For example, if you think that a website redesign project could be completed within three months, project that it will take four months. This leaves room for unexpected issues and occurrences, and provides you with the opportunity to look like a hero when you complete the project early.
6. You’re bouncing clients around from one person to the next
Sending your clients from one point of contact to the next is a surefire way to irritate them. This can even be irritating to your team, especially when some team members may not be as tuned-in to the project as other team members.
How to avoid this:
- Provide a smooth transition from sales team to project manager. Without a smooth transition, you’re providing your client with an undesirable, unorganized first impression of the way your agency operates. During your onboarding process, arrange an introductory meeting or have a kick-off phone call with the entire team to ensure the transition process goes as smoothly as possible.
- Appoint a primary point of contact. There should be one primary person that the client can turn to with questions, issues, concerns, updates, etc. To avoid any setbacks or frustrations down the road, this single point of contact should be clarified right from the start during the client onboarding process. As mentioned in our first point, there should also be a back-up point of contact for when the primary contact person is unavailable.
Are you guilty of annoying your clients?
Collaborating with clients can be tough especially when you have multiple clients requiring different projects from your agency team on different timelines. Even though you may have clients that annoy you, remember this: both parties can be annoying to one another. While there’s no foolproof way to have a perfectly seamless relationship with your clients, there are ways to make collaboration easier and to ensure you don’t annoy your clients.
Ask yourself if you’re guilty of annoying your clients by making any of the common mistakes listed above. If you find yourself answering yes, consider rereading some of the tips we included to avoid annoying your clients in the future.