Having a great relationship with our clients really helps us to deliver our best strategic and creative work. We could say we’re lucky that we enjoy strong and open relationships with our clients, but luck does not have much to do with it. Instead, it’s due to the trust, openness and respect we have between us and the teams we work with.
At Blue Feathers, we wanted to understand this more, so we created a list of the top things our clients do, that help get the best quality outcomes. A list that’s beyond the usual essentials such as a clear brief and clear, constructive and timely feedback rather looking more deeply at effective working relationships.
We thought we’d share it as a useful sense check for when you’re working with outsourced partners.
One of the most important elements for us is the recognition that we’re all people. Human beings that have a desire to do a great job and who enjoy what we do.
Taking a small amount of time to get to know a bit about each other helps ensure we connect as people and not just as resources working on a project. Great connections mean we then benefit from open communication, understanding each other’s strengths, and awareness of what’s going on in our clients’ lives – enabling us to work in a way that’s helpful to them.
It also helps everyone have some fun and enjoy the project. The more we all enjoy our work and feel we are in it together, the more people to want to go that extra mile.
This type of connection does not need to be time consuming. There are simple things that can help, such as making time in the kick-off meeting to introduce everyone, allowing for five minutes at the start of a meeting for a general catch up, or just picking up the phone for an informal check in from time to time.
The more people connect, understand each other and enjoy working together, the more open, honest and helpful the communication, and the better the outcome for all.
Being open and sharing challenges
Next is that our clients are open and honest with us – sharing the challenges they face in relation to the project we’re working on. From whether your senior team are not aligned, to your gut being worried about something specific.
We’re here to help and want to create an outcome that works for you and your business – we can’t do this if we don’t have the full picture. If we understand the challenges, we can see how we can help overcome them. Whether it’s making time to bottom out a fundamental question that not everyone is aligned on or making sure all output is in a format particular stakeholders prefer.
Often, we find the challenges may be personal or team related – such as confidence in presenting or a lack of a specific capability within a team. This is not a weakness and is not uncommon. If you let us know we can help with coaching, mentoring or wider training. Whichever would be more helpful.
We’re not here to judge or criticise. We’re here to help and support, so our clients can achieve what they want to. It’s important to us that every project we do is a success and something everyone is excited about and proud of.
Outsourced partners are often brought on board as we have the resources, time and skills needed to solve a problem or answer a question. Having confidence and trust in us means you empower us and give us the space to focus our time on the real heart of the project, for example on the chunky questions that need answering, rather than a lot of backward and forward on more granular detail. Plus, this gives us the freedom to explore bigger and often more interesting areas of a strategy or a proposition, which enables us to develop a better output for you and is more motivating for us.
We believe trust is earned in many ways and that one essential part is that we are organised and forward looking, so we can ensure we keep ahead and deliver everything to a high quality and in a timely way. Clear and frequent communication is also helpful so our clients can see what’s happening without the need to ask.
Finally, we love what we do and put a lot of care and passion into our work. From meeting and workshop planning through to strategy development and proposition creation. So, when meetings get cut short, people turn up late or feedback is not shared, we can feel a little let down.
We appreciate that diaries get crashed, meetings change, and emergencies happen. What works well is letting us know if this likely to happen so we can replan or flex how we share the information we have. This also means we can make sure we give you everything you need when you need it.
To help with this, at the start of every project, we create a simple plan with detailed timings which we run through and agree with our clients. We then get everything into diaries early giving full visibility and helping clients to manage expectations with stakeholders. We also send short weekly updates, so they have everything in one place and visibility of anything that needs looking into.
In summary, we’re all human beings that love what we do and love working collaboratively with our clients. We do a lot to help make sure we build great open relationships from the start of a project through to the end. What we ask for, to help us get the best results, are openness, honesty, trust and respect (and of course a brilliant brief!).
Author: Jess Poore
Jess has experience across a breadth of areas from brand and commercial marketing to customer experience. Her passion is putting customers front and centre to drive business growth and customer happiness. Bringing together data and insight, creativity and commercial understanding to shape impactful brand and marketing strategies.