Over the past 10+ years of working in PPC, I’ve had numerous clients. While the quality of work being done, and the results it delivered, was the most important aspect of the business relationship, I would argue that the personal relationship with each client was equally important in the length & ease of the engagement. Each relationship is different because each client contact has a different personality and even companies in similar industries have very different cultures. However, I’ve found that no matter what I’m doing to build that relationship, there is one question that always works to improve that relationship.
The Golden Question
First, you have to know when to ask this question for maximum benefit. You could start a conversation with this question and it would be a great discussion. You could cover everything from strategy to reporting and get a lot out of it. But to capture the most benefit, this question should be asked at the end of your client conversations; after you’ve discussed pressing items, after you’ve discussed the agenda, after you’ve discussed strategy and after you’ve summarized to-do items and responsibilities for everyone. Right before the conversation ends and most people would say “Take care” and hang up; that’s when you pop this important question:
What else can I do for you today?
This is a deceivingly simple question, but if you take a moment to really unpack it, you begin to see how much relationship-building awesomeness is built into this question:
The question is open-ended.
This type of question demands thought and isn’t easily dismissed. You’ll find that clients will pause before answering. This is because they’re thinking through what you’re already doing and looking for holes or areas where you could improve. Good questions get people out of routine and automatic responses and that’s what you’re looking for. This will often surface concerns or ideas that didn’t fit the “normal” flow of the conversation, yet are vital/important.
The question includes a component of time.
I end the question with “today” on purpose so there is a specific time frame. If you don’t include a time frame the discussion could become hypothetical or disjointed. With a time frame, it helps them more easily think through their response and frames the ask for delivery and execution, not just a warm fuzzy.
The Extra Mile
If asked after you’ve covered everything, this communicates that you’re willing to go the extra mile; beyond what is normally expected. In a world where doing the bare minimum is often the expectation, this is perhaps the most important thing. It is what sets you apart from their prior agency or account manager. It shows that you care and want to do the work that will get better than expected results.
Go ahead and give this question a try on your next client call/meeting. It’s easy to do and I’d love to hear in the comments how it worked out for you.
What tips do you have for bettering your client relationships?