“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going ot be somebody who hates peaches.” – Dita Von Teese
Not everybody is going to get along, just like every relationship is not going to be a perfect fit. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work out very well in the professional world, where you have to get along with a dozen different personalities at any given moment. In creative agencies, we are just that, creatives.
The unspoken side of creative agencies is working with the clients. Whether there are client facing project managers in your firm or not, at some point in time we are all interacting with clients and no matter how hard we try, at some point in time we are all likely to have a client relationship go sideways on us. Just because a client relationship has gone a little off the rails doesn’t mean it’s not redeemable. We have chatted with our web developers, our graphic designers, and our project managers to gather our collective experience and top tips to help turn around a relationship that’s gone off the rails.
Do Your Research
Marketing specialists, web developers, and graphic designers research that crap out of every project. They look at each section from a million angles and analyze each possible scenario – and that’s even when we’re pressed for time. If you’re ever faced with a deteriorating client relationship, it may be easy to simply jump to a conclusion and put the entire episode in a box, but understanding the actual root of the issue will help formulate a resolution.
Collaborate Your Problem Solving
Just like that old saying goes, no man is an island. And just like that saying (ok, not just like that saying), no ad executive or creative project manager should try to navigate the choppy waters of an unhappy client alone. Bring in other key members of the project, including the client, and work through what success looks like, then bring the rest of the team onboard and get them excited about the process.
Define Your Decision Maker
This tip may seem the exact opposite of collaborative, but defining a clear decision maker will help prevent an already dicey situation from going completely off the rails. In creative agencies, this person tends to be the project manager, but in the case of a dicey client relationship, it should be a level headed person, with whom the client has a good rapport and has an understanding of the project as a whole. Oftentimes, creative or art directors will take this role, this way there aren’t too many cooks in the kitchen.
Fake It ‘Til You Make It
This may sound a little ridiculous (or obvious depending on the type of person you are) but sometimes the best way to navigate tricky interpersonal situations is to just keep the mood light. You’d be surprised at how people respond to someone who can keep a calm, cool, and light composure.