On the trail of the holy grail of client delight

29th June 2018

We all love to get the service we’re paying for, but when our expectations are exceeded we tend to get a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Which begs the question: How do you bottle that feeling of client delight? Or instil it as standard? We’re tackling this in our unique way, as this blog outlines.

Ever wondered just what it is that your clients like about you? Don’t worry, it’s not a sign of vanity. In fact, it’s probably quite healthy and is one of the key steps to understanding and communicating your why (which we’ve dealt with at length here and here and here).

The promise of finding that winning formula of great ideas, top-notch delivery and mutually beneficial client relationships has kept much smarter minds than ours busy over the years. One of those minds, former President of the CIPR and Chairman of the PRCA Alison Clarke, shared some nuggets of wisdom on this issue at a recent PRCA South West event we attended. She summed up the findings from a range of studies as follows:

  • Clients want consultancies to think faster than them
  • Clients want consultancies to be proactive
  • Clients want to see skill in consulting – defined as having an ability to clarify problems and provide guidance on dealing with them 

We can add three more things to this wishlist, courtesy of the annual survey by Up to the Light which looks at client opinions of design agencies. Only 18% believed that their agency regularly exceeded their expectations, the top three of which were:

  1. Quality creative output
  2. On time and on budget
  3. Be proactive 

So far so predictable… We love a good Richard Branson quote, and he summed up the challenge when he said:

"The key is to set realistic customer expectations, and then not to just meet them, but to exceed them - preferably in unexpected and helpful ways."

As part of our drive to reimagine public relations for a purpose driven world we’ve put transparency and honesty at the heart of everything. It links our company values and drives many of our decisions. When it came to creating a set of promises around our services we didn’t want to pay lip service with a set of SLA’s that we kept in the drawer and dusted off from time to time. In fact, we’re determined to see whether we can break the tried and tested formula, and maybe even give Sir Richard something more to think about.

We’ve got a good idea of what we should be committing to, but that suggests that we’ve got all the answers. Which we definitely don’t. So our next move is to consult with our clients on it. Then we’re going to publish it.

A pretty daunting prospect, but one very much in keeping with another of our company values – risking wrong.

What’s your experience of this? What do you value most in the agencies you’ve worked with, or think your clients are looking for? If you’re already a client, keep an eye on your inbox. If you’re not, contact us at purpose@wearecohesive.com to arrange your own private Slack channel to discuss what you look for in an agency. Whoever you are, we’d love you to join the conversation in the comments.


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