If I had to pick one of our company principles that I believe is the most important, it would unequivocally be this one.
Our principles are the rules we live by. Our set of ever-growing fundamental truths that serve as the foundation for our belief system and set us up to execute our work to the maximum possible self-fulfillment & client experience.
Our goal is to be the best client services company, period. And if we even want to sniff achieving that, we always have to do what we said we were going to do.
Because, quite frankly, for all employees of any client service company – big or small – there is one thing that is always true:
Whether they tell you this or not, today, all of your clients are expecting to hear from you.
You can believe it, or not, I don’t care, but it is the ultimate truth.
So, in order to actually put yourself in a good position when that happens, is you ALWAYS have to do what you said you were going to do.
For example, every client / agency relationship starts in relatively the same way. A conversation about business goals, followed by an agreed upon Scope of Work. In theory, that Scope of Work has been communicated properly from the sales / biz dev team all the way down to the janitor. 🙂
This means that everyone on the team, on the hook for the service provided, understands what’s expected. AKA – they are “saying” – THIS IS WHAT WE’RE ABOUT TO DO.
Unfortunately for many paying customers in the digital agency world, but fortunate for us, so many digital agencies – for whatever reason – simply DO NOT DO WHAT THEY SAY THEY ARE GOING TO.
My own personal experience working with several other agencies has not only clued me into why that is, but it has suffocated all potential excuses out of my entire being, to the point where I’m adamant with my team about NOT HAVING ANY BLOCKERS (no excuses to not get the work done.).
This doesn’t mean that we let clients push us around. Instead, these are the things we remember to ensure we’re always executing against Principle #3…
1. Over-communication and Follow-up are your best friends.
Think of it this way. When you’re trying to learn something new, you repeat it to yourself, or you write it down, because it’s important. We have so much going on, that the first step in remembering what to do on a new engagement, is to constantly repeat to ourselves AND our clients what we said we would do, and what we’re doing in the moment to get there.
Okay, if you insist, I’ll use a sports analogy. What do you think Eric Snow of the Michigan State Spartans Basketball team did to improve his Free Throw Percentage as a Freshman in 1991-92 from 20% to 60% as a senior in 1994-95?
He effing shot a d-load of Free Throws. And he earned himself a successful NBA Career
This is “practice makes perfect.” This is “over-communication and follow-up.”
Haven’t improved your “free throw game by 40%?” (aka, still struggling getting your work done?) – better communicate and check in even more. Follow-up and make sure you know what you’re supposed to be doing.
You can’t do your work without knowing what the hell it is. Get there.
Seems simple, but it’s not. It’s hard. And agencies that lose sight of it, well, FAIL HARD.
Don’t be Shawn Respert (look it up). Be Eric Snow.
2. There will always be factors outside of your control.
In fairness to Shawn Respert, there were several factors out of his control (again, look it up), and this will happen to you.
Clients will try to add scope. I mean, imagine trying to improve your free throw percentage with someone moving the basket? That’s what happens on every project. Clients move the rim on you, constantly.
Once you accept that fact, and focus on what you can control, you will win. You will be successful.
We agreed to a scope, and we can execute against that scope. Sure, we can change from shooting free throws to a crazy pop-a-shot game with songs playing and the rim moving back and forth, but it’s going to change the scope of work.
Good, fine. No excuses. We can control that communication, so we do.
But when the people who are supposed to be doing the work (us, the client services company), sit around and dwell on these factors that may or may not change, we are guilty of LOSING FOCUS.
My point is, even when others try to move the basket on you, and the rim is shaking, stay focused, calm down, take a deep breath, go through your routine, hold the rim still again, and sink your free throws.
Any focus outside of things that you can control, is complete wasted energy.
Just remember what you said you were going to do. After all, you repeated it to yourself and wrote it down, right? It’s all documented? Good.
Just do that. ALWAYS. And you will win. Trust me.