How To Help Clients Who’ve Been Beat Up

Helping Previously Mistreated Clients

Sadly, it’s pretty common for agencies like ours to onboard clients who come to us so beat up, it feels like we should be playing the Sarah Mclachlan ASPCA song. When we hear some of these stories (like websites taking three times as long as promised while squeezing clients for money that they don’t have or feeling as though their business is practically being held hostage), it reminds us why we chose to run our company the way we do.

The foul play of manipulative people in this and other industries can make it hard to establish the trust of a new client. Point blank, we have to learn how to earn the trust of clients instead of assuming it’s inherent to the client-agency relationship. This blog will discuss some of the ways we engage in a thoughtful and intentional client relationship.

Earn Your Client’s Trust

Listen with empathy to what has happened in the past and ensure you have the bandwidth to show up earnestly where others could not or chose not to. Most of the time, clients will open up on their own about where other agencies have fallen short for them. However, sometimes they’ll simply say they’ve been beaten up without giving much detail. Professionally and with consent, find out more about what happened with as much detail as they’re comfortable offering up.

There are certainly levels of professionalism that many of us adhere to inherently. However, there are things you may say or do with positive intentions that may trigger distrust in the client. How will you know how to avoid those unless you’ve put in the work to learn about their previous experiences? Your agency might not find out under the best circumstances otherwise. So, digging deep at the top of the sale and the subsequent project is strongly recommended.

Show Your Worth and Show it Often

Part of why we are an agile agency is so we have the opportunity to show the client and stakeholders progress on the website or web application we’re developing on a frequent and consistent basis.

This is helpful to the client for a number of reasons, including;
1.) Showing the client that we’re making progress week over week.
2.) Giving the client a regular opportunity to provide feedback that they will see turned into actionable items.
3.) Catching issues as efficiently and early as possible. This way we avoid an unfortunate domino effect on development that ends up being costly to the schedule and budget.

Prioritize The Best Bang For Their Buck

It’s important to ensure you’re not promising more than your agency can really deliver.

Truly listening to your clients and putting together an honest budget for the scope of work they need is essential. When you do, it will be very apparent what is accomplishable, and what might need reconsideration to honor their budget. Remember – you’re the agency, so you’re the expert who should be able to offer up well-rounded explanations as to what aspects of development are most important to move forward with.

This means that sometimes saying “no” to a client’s desires can actually help foster more trust. Be willing to say “no” to requests that you know will not help push their company in the right direction. This is a positive thing! It helps reiterate that you’re not taking advantage of them. It shows you’re working as their partner and ensuring they get the product they need with the budget they have available.

Follow Through On Client Promises

Tied closely to not overpromising, it’s also important to follow through on everything that was promised at the onset. For example, we recently had a client come to us with a somewhat limited budget. They had also just taken quite a metaphorical beating from their former dev agency. Their site had just enough in place to get them off the ground, but it was not performant, and their conversions were low. Their SEO was fairly solid as they had made a concerted effort to bulk up their blog and website content. They really wanted to ensure none of that was lost while we upgraded their site to Shopify, and we were able to deliver.

This same client really needed an improvement on their site conversions to improve overall sales, particularly their underperforming direct online sales. This was another reason we chose Shopify: we know the shopping experience on this platform is top-notch without breaking the bank. We are happy to report that our client’s sales process has improved very well and their website conversions are continuing to grow. In fact, they made their money back on the cost of the custom eCommerce website within one month of launching.

Be A True Technical and Business Partner

This is honestly just about employing integrity, transparency, and putting in the work. If their website and the business behind the website do not require something, like app development, then don’t push them to do that. If they’re trying to cut corners on things that may hurt overall business goals, guide them toward the best decision. Not only are you providing a more genuine and honorable service to them, but you may also be setting yourself up for further/continued work. A shady agency can always find a new client to burn and churn. An agency with integrity will find clients who will grow with them and help them grow in return.

It’s a business 101 kind of thing: it’s twice as financially sound for a company to keep a client than to constantly have to find and sign new ones. So, be sure to listen to your clients, earn their trust and deliver a solid product time after time – it benefits all parties involved!

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