| Mar 4, 2024 | | 9 min read

How to Cultivate Connections with Seamless Client Collaboration

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Long-lasting relationships are essential to agency growth, and an indispensable ingredient in these profitable partnerships is effective client collaboration. This refers to the ongoing process of cooperation, shared decision-making, and interaction between agencies and their clients required to create mutually beneficial results.

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Prioritizing positive client collaboration in your digital agency can set your organization up for the ongoing success that high-trust, long-term partnerships bring. In this blog post, we’ll dive into why improving client collaboration should be on your agenda, and give you the tools for creating a culture of collaboration in your agency. Then, we’ll cover actionable tips for better client collaboration and provide an overview of the tools available to make collaboration a breeze.

Why client collaboration is important

As an agency owner, you know the feeling of accomplishment that comes with closing a new client. You put the work in, and now you have a new paying customer for your reseller digital marketing agency. But the real work of turning that new client into a high-value, long-term collaborator had just begun.

With the tools and knowledge to foster fruitful, mutually beneficial client collaboration, you can secure those sticky client relationships that recession-proof your agency. Here’s why collaboration should be a paramount value.

Enhances understanding of client needs and expectations

If you don’t thoroughly understand your client’s challenges and goals, you set yourself up for failure by offering the services you want to sell instead of those that address the client’s active pain points. You can avoid this too-common pitfall by incorporating a reliable client collaboration system into your workflow to capture key information.

By understanding their needs, you can meet those expectations and become the go-to, indispensable partner in helping your customers reach their business goals.

Builds trust and strengthens the client relationship

Trust is a valuable currency in the agency world: there’s no shortage of competitors out there, so to cut through the noise and build a healthy client roster, customers need a good reason to choose your agency.

Through client collaboration, you can demonstrate that you understand their needs and give customers the confidence that you have their best interests at heart. When it comes to making a buying decision, business owners will opt for the service provider they can trust.

Increases client satisfaction and loyalty

If clients are constantly churning out, you’ll find you can never quite get off the client acquisition treadmill and catch your breath. But if the clients you sign remain paying clients long-term, that steady revenue makes it far easier to forecast and make investments to grow your business.

The key to reducing churn and boosting satisfaction? Effective, honest client collaboration.

By incorporating collaboration into your interactions with your client throughout your partnership, you continuously demonstrate that you value their experience and results. This loyalty provides insurance even if you have the odd unexpected hiccup or disappointing month.

Drives innovation and fosters creativity

Even if your client isn’t an experienced marketer, they bring their expertise and robust knowledge of their business to the table. Regularly exploring ideas and solutions together through client collaboration lets you tap into their proficiencies to develop more innovative and creative solutions, improving your digital marketing strategies.

Improves project outcomes and overall business success

The beauty of having a collaborative relationship with your clients is that it benefits both participants: customers win because their pain points are resolved, allowing them to focus on the parts of their business they’re best at, and your agency wins because those accomplishments drive the long-term success of your organization.

How to create a collaborative culture and environment

Strong relationships begin with your agency’s culture, so it’s important to establish an environment that promotes client collaboration. Let’s take a look at some ways you can infuse your organization with an ethos of cooperation and mutual support.

Foster open and transparent communication

A spirit of openness and transparency should be encouraged within your organization, both in internal interactions and in client-facing interactions. Some tips for doing this include:

  • Set up regular communication channels, especially if you work remotely. This might include the use of collaboration platforms and live meetings at regular intervals. As owner, show openness by regularly participating in these channels.
  • Encourage feedback. Clients and teammates should feel comfortable and encouraged to give their feedback on your services, processes, and other facets of your business.
  • Demonstrate transparent decision-making. Explaining the rationale behind decisions, both on client accounts and internally, helps build a sense of trust and involvement among all of your agency’s stakeholders.
  • Model the communication norms you want others to embody. Whether it’s friendly language, regular status updates, or snappy responses, you can encourage positive collaborative relationships by upholding your part of the bargain and modeling a spring of collaboration.

Encourage active listening and empathy

When hiring new team members and onboarding new clients, begin the relationship on a positive note by calling out the value of active listening and an empathetic approach.

You can include a section on these values in your training modules for new hires. Similarly, when presenting your company’s values to prospects and clients, be explicit about these being principles they can expect from you.

Establish clear goals and expectations

A surefire way to sour a relationship is by making your collaborator feel like you fell short of your commitment. This happens when goals aren’t clearly defined, so parties aren’t on the same page about expected outcomes.

To avoid this, ensure goals and expectations are clearly defined before embarking on any work. Take the time to summarize these at the end of any planning meetings, giving your client or colleague a chance to clarify if they disagree with your summary.

Promote a culture of mutual respect and inclusivity

Internal and client collaboration doesn’t have to imply you agree about everything or see eye-to-eye on all issues. Divergences can lead to more creativity by bringing a diverse set of viewpoints to projects, provided that all parties are encouraged to share their view without fear of reproach.

Check out this video where our sales program specialist, Jacob, dives into how you can boost collaboration with Vendasta’s Microsoft Teams integration:

Provide opportunities for collaboration and teamwork

Collaboration doesn’t always happen naturally, so if you want it to be a part of your agency’s regular workflow, it’s important to deliberately build it into your processes.

This can take the form of:

  • Regular check-ins
  • Recognition for collaborative success
  • Team building and client appreciation activities
  • Cross-team workshops to foster collaboration between, say, sales and marketing

Tips and tactics for better client collaboration

Whether you’re starting an agency or seeking to enhance collaboration in your organization, incorporate these tips to establish a great culture and foster teamwork.

Regularly communicate and update clients on project progress

If you only do one thing to boost client collaboration at your agency, it should be this. Regular communication helps clients feel like they’re in good hands, dealing with a partner who is sincerely invested in their success.

This could be a simple summary email every Friday, a bi-weekly phone call, or some other interval that makes sense for the project and client. The key is to make a regular habit of providing updates.

Seek client feedback and involve them in decision-making processes

If you don’t ask for feedback until late in a project, you may find your client has been sitting on observations that would have been far more useful earlier in the process. Some clients may openly ask questions and provide feedback without being prompted, but often, you have to actively seek their input. Don’t leave it up to chance.

Set realistic timelines and manage expectations effectively

As I noted earlier, failing to meet expectations can fry a relationship beyond repair. This doesn’t mean you should aim low, but it does mean you should be realistic about what your agency can accomplish and how much time is needed for each project. Working with a white-label digital marketing agency can dramatically increase your output, so if your growth is limited by in-house capacity, this is a great avenue to consider.

Be proactive in addressing issues and resolving conflicts

Small problems tend to snowball into big ones. Avoid letting issues fester by keeping an eye on things that can potentially become more significant over time, and transparently work on them with your client.

Continuously improve and learn from client experiences

An internal project review process is a great way to keep track of successes and challenges that arise from each client or project. Say you’re trying something new with a client, like setting up an ecommerce system for their services. If you run into unexpected challenges in your setup, documenting these can help your team provide an even better experience the next time.

How to leverage client collaboration tools

Modern client collaboration tools make it easy to stay connected, even as your agency grows. These include:

  • Customer relationship management (CRM) software: Centralizes and organizes client information so all members of your team can see relevant information in one place.
  • Google Workspace: Includes collaboration tools like Google Meet and shared cloud hosting.
  • Client dashboards: Improves your clients’ experiences by giving them a central dashboard where they can access real-time data about their projects and accounts.
  • White-label platforms: Assign white-label professionals to work with clients under your agency’s banner, giving them a more personalized experience.
  • Collaborative design tools: Create a smoother workflow for your design-related projects by sharing and collaboratively iterating on mood boards, wireframes, and mockups.
  • Project management platforms: Ensure no prospect or client falls through the tracks by using a robust task and project manager.

Choosing the right tools for your agency

When choosing agency client collaboration tools, the main variables to keep in mind are:

  • Your budget
  • Your agency’s current challenges
  • The needs and preferences of your clients

Your selected tools should make life easier for both you and your clients, rather than adding another cumbersome piece of technology to your process. If your clients aren’t particularly tech-savvy, an easy-to-use dashboard would likely be more useful to them than something more advanced, like a collaborative design platform.

How to get the most out of your collaboration tools

The best collaboration tool is the one your team and clients use. Here’s how to ensure that happens:

  • Provide training and documentation for any new tool introduced, including an internal standard operation procedure (SOP).
  • Integrate tools with other solutions wherever possible to minimize the need to input data manually.
  • Encourage client participation early in your relationship to get them used to your platform or tool of choice.
  • Stay updated on new features as they’re added.

About the Author

Lawrence Dy is the SEO Strategy Manager at Vendasta. His career spans from starting as a Jr. Copywriter in the automotive industry to becoming a Senior Editorial Content Manager in various digital marketing niches. Outside of work, Lawrence moonlights as a music producer/beatmaker and spends time with friends and family.

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