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Published August 11th 2023

Agencies: 6 Tools to Support Your Client Retention Strategy

Agency client retention is an art that requires multiple tools. Here's a list of tools you might want to consider to keep your clients happy.

Perfecting client retention habits requires agencies to use multiple tools. From effective onboarding with a CRM to securing more business through loyalty schemes, client retention tools can help you on every step of the journey.

Clients need help executing their KPIs, that’s why they’ve hired your agency, and want to keep on top of it all. Most effective agency client retention strategies utilize some form of platform or database to draw information that will improve decisions, show progress is being made, and create those all-important reports. In fact, on average agencies use 12 management tools just to keep on top of everything.

This therefore isn’t a quick process and starts with an agency understanding its client. Knowledge saves time and effort later down the line, when you’re trying to retain business, and can also help you win new business. If you’ve got an existing client whose needs you don’t understand, it’s never too late to do a bit of discovery. 

With that in mind, here’s how agencies can use commonplace tools to understand what the client wants to achieve and execute those deliverables. Find out:

  • What are their goals for their business right now? 
  • What are their pain points with this particular piece of work?
  • How do they like to work?
  • What reports do they want to see?

Using these tools below will help create a cohesive client experience across your agency from acquisition to everyday interaction and eventually, retention.

1. Align with your sales team and use a good CRM

Before you even begin implementing client retention strategies, make sure your agency’s sales team is on board with what you’re doing.

Although it might seem counterintuitive – you’re doing retention, not acquisition – there’s nothing more frustrating for a new client than to be told one thing from a sales team member who’s trying to get them on board, only to be told something else by you when they actually start working with you.

Twenty-nine percent of agencies put client churn as their biggest pain point. Reducing turnover through a strong onboarding process will mitigate these issues.

Useful tools for this include a good customer relationship management system (CRM), like Hubspot or Salesforce, that will let you track your entire journey with your client. It also means the acquisition and retention teams within your agency know what the other has said to the client, so you’re not contradicting each other.

2. Record your clients’ needs with a project management tool

Every client is different and has varying demands on your services, however specialized they are. So the first thing to do before you formally onboard a client is to understand their needs. This is best done in a one-to-one meeting, video conference, or even just a phone call. A couple of template emails won’t hack it – you need to ask tailored questions of your client, share previous work, and build an understanding of what they actually want from you. Setting expectations both ways will help in the long run.

You can use tools like Asana, Notion, and Monday for project management, and old favorites like Google Drive and Dropbox are perfect file-sharing tools when you’re setting up those crucial first meetings. Check which tools your client already uses to get instant kudos, and save hours of time tutoring one another on your different workflows.

You’ll soon have valuable information about your client and their ambitions. This is important because a client may not have a fleshed-out brief then when engage with an agency – they might simply want something, but have no idea how to get it. Starting a conversation is the best way to draw that out.

3. Specialize your CRM to build trust

Agency relationships with clients rely on trust. Often it’s hard for a client to know exactly what’s going on with their projects that are trusted to agencies, because there are scores of staff working on it. A third of digital agencies employ more than 10 people.

Of course, the more a client trusts you, the stronger that relationship becomes – and therefore you’re more likely to retain their business. Again, using a CRM platform such as Hubspot or Salesforce to document your relationship with your customer can help build trust from the first point of contact.

But you can go a step further by bringing in specialist software that keeps everything transparent and accessible to clients. AttentionMedia, for example, used the Brandwatch suite to transform their clunky, rudimentary processes into streamlined deliverances for their social media clients. AttentionMedia was able to scale while increasing the satisfaction rates of their current customers.

4. Demonstrate you can meet their needs with an umbrella tool

The selling point of an agency is they can, generally, deliver whatever a client wants. But that can lead to clients being overwhelmed by too much choice and not asking for what they actually need. Therefore agency teams that want to retain their clients must display they can meet those needs again and again.

Businesses have a 60% to 70% chance of selling to an existing customer so it’s important to understand them. The best way to do this is to use a management tool that both the agency and the client can use to go back and forth with commissions, project updates, etc.

An umbrella tool covers an entire project from start to finish and is perfect for showing a client – or prospective client – what they get for their dollars. Notion is a great platform for agencies who work closely with clients on projects, and who need to be flexible to be able to respond to the immediate needs of their customers.

5. Use consumer intelligence to benchmark

Being able to compare a client’s brand with similar organizations and rivals acts as a good first step to proving you get what they need. To do this effectively you first have to figure out where your client sits within its industry, and what their ambitions are.

With Brandwatch’s benchmarking tool, you can compare your client’s performance across various metrics and data points against others in their industry. This way you both know where they stand.

Using Benchmark, companies such as IMB, Lion & Lion, and Changi Airport have successfully increased and diversified their social engagements, and accessed previously unseen analytics, to drive future business decisions.

6. Use platforms that suit the client

As an agency, you might use multiple management and creative platforms to run projects with clients. But it’s worth staying open-minded, even if you have your favorite tools and platforms. You need to have a conversation with the client about any tools that will be shared between you.

Be clear about what you use and don’t use. For example, they might use an image supplier for their marketing, and create visual graphics via a specific platform. They may therefore expect an agency to be able to jump on the same resources too.

Remember that working with a client and retaining their business is not just about project management. Other factors such as using chat software effectively, integrating calendars properly, and being secure in your data sharing are just as important.

This isn’t about being robotic, but using robots to do stuff makes everyone’s life easier. For example, if they like ChatGPT but you don’t, communicate that, and explain why.

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