Rules of client engagement

We recently had a conversation in the office that reminded me of one of our past blog posts surrounding the rules of client engagement. While these principles are extremely vital to the health of client relationships, meeting and managing expectations and deliverables are just as critical.

Similar to engagement best practices such as establishing a shared purpose and process for campaign execution, managing client expectations all starts by asking the right questions.

What is the overall goal of the project?

Do the outcomes of your proposed strategy ladder back up to those goals?

What is the “so what?” behind your metrics? “We did X, ‘so what’ did it do to drive business forward?”

Are all stakeholders on the same page in regards to goals and objectives?

Do you have checkpoints in place to ensure you do not get off course?

These are all important things to consider when managing client expectations thus strengthening client relationships. Check out the post below for more thoughts around rules of client engagement.

Rules of Client Engagement
We like to say that we fall in love with our clients. But like other kinds of love, it’s not enough to care for a client for that relationship to work. Of course, professional services have to be properly staffed and highly serviced by the agency.

There are also ways a client can make the most of engaging an agency throughout the length of engagement.

Is there one owner of the relationship?
This applies to both sides. Having a single leader and decision maker who owns the relationship – at the agency, and also inside the client – makes for clear communication and both efficient and effective management of a project. Someone, on either side, needs to be connecting teams, proactively looking out for potential pitfalls and opportunities, and managing expectations.

Do you have a stated shared purpose?
Are we up to the same thing? Do other key stakeholders in the company agree on what we’re trying to achieve? Have we defined and agreed upon our objectives? This is different than deliverables. Deliverables are what we might make to fulfill our brand purpose and achieve our objectives. A shared purpose is knowing and articulating that both parties are aligned around the same vision and goals for the business and for the teams involved.

To establish a shared purpose, you must first agree on the context in which you’re working. What is the business situation? What are the factors that have created that situation and what might be hurdles in the process?

Are our objectives clear and agreed upon by those who have decision power within the client? If a portion of decision makers are engaging with a different goal in mind, then the project will fail. Alignment is rarely a “one and done” task, but must be revisited again and again during the course of a project to ensure everyone is still sharing the same purpose, and the same vision for what great means.

Do you have an agreed to process for the engagement?
Many clients focus on deliverables. Yet, in the line of work of brand strategy, deliverables are often secondary. Our work – like most professional services – is in the change and empowerment that happens throughout the organization, and the trajectory for innovation that is set from the work we achieve together. The process and methodology is what creates the change required to set a strategic course for the brand and business of a company. Do we have agreement on the best process to get us to our desired end result? Results don’t just happen.

When both parties have a clear line of command, a commitment to a shared (and articulated) purpose, and have agreed upon the process and structure for getting to the desired results, then success will be imminent.

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