Particularly in light of an evolving communications landscape where ideas and new campaigns are most important, it is essential that PR professionals understand the needs of their clients. Often, just doing what needs to be done is not enough – clients will be truly impressed only if you go above and beyond and highlight what is “good to do” in addition to the “must do.” Good client servicing also means reading between the lines and grasping the unwritten or underlying meaning of the brief. However, the risks associated with poor client servicing are enormous.
Your client is looking for consistently top class services and few repeated setbacks can put your contract in danger. There are a few key signs that you must look out for to understand that your client is not exactly happy with your functioning and is looking for alternatives. Some of these signs are:
1) Constant Differences on Quality of Work and Reporting Standards or Certain Team Members
Your client may constantly complain about performance not matching expectations. They will raise the bogey of substandard work quality and reporting standards not matching their values. They might even pick up on some team members and complain about their falling performance. It is their way of saying that you are no longer our number one priority.
2) Regular Inquisitions
Watch out for an increase in enquiries about various aspects of your service which they never bothered about till now. There is a very thin line between genuine inquisition and intentional harassment. You could be called in frequently for cross questioning on plans or asked to explain the how’s and why’s of implementation. Your application procedures could be termed as unsatisfactory and not matching their high standards. Every one of your moves could be questioned solely to create an unsuitable atmosphere where delivering quality performance becomes extremely tough. Harassment could also come in the form of demands for high frequency reporting which could be difficult to deliver within the setup you have.
3) Dissatisfaction with Quality of Writing
If your client wants to see your back as soon as possible, they might resort to tricks such as expressing dissatisfaction with the quality of writing or similar complaints which was never an issue in the past. You might continue to have the same resources working on the project but your client will still complain because they have to send the message loud and clear, that the association is not going to work any longer.
4) Refuse Appointments Even to Senior Team Members
Another clear sign, that the client relationship is hurtling southwards, is when the client refuses to grant appointments or meetings even for your senior team members. It is a deliberate ploy to snub you and signals that things could be turning for the worse, quicker than expected. You will not be given a chance to explain delays or why you handled a task in a particular manner.
5) Drop in Levels of Service Usage
When the client cuts down usage of your services drastically and inexplicably, it is a clear sign that you will be shown the door sooner than later. They could call in other consultants to handle a critical project, for which you were the obvious choice in the past. The client will starve you of work so that you have no choice but to walk out of the agreement.
Communications is a critical element in client servicing. If things are not working with the usual clockwork precision, you must make the effort to communicate with your client and work out alternative procedures, mutually. Allowing matters to drift is a guaranteed way of making your client look beyond you for more effective alternatives.