Client Management System for Agencies

Train Your Clients. Protect Your Margins

Last month, you were on Cloud 9. You closed that “dream” client and floated away on a fantasy of high fives, excellent reviews, and a shiny new retainer. 

But this week, you’re in H£ll. With a capital H.

They want things how they want them. 

And doggone it, they’re gonna get it, even if it means constant pings, dings, and tears for your staff. 

You want to kill that dream nightmare client. 

Good grief, what went wrong? 

You don’t have a process for managing clients, that’s what. Client management for agencies is critical to protecting your bottom line, sanity, and ability to scale your agency. 

It’s S.C.A.L.E. to the rescue. 

What’s S.C.A.L.E.?

Our S.C.A.L.E. framework (which we’ll be implementing for you), is a systemic, proven process for scaling agencies. 

Ready to find harmony in your work life? Let’s get on that ASAP! Here’s how S.C.A.L.E. works to turn those nightmarish clients into dreamy McDreamsters who pay and stop hasslin’ you. 

S. See what’s happening

Without a client management process in place, pain, and chaos abound. So, what type of pain and chaos are you currently dealing with in your client management process (or lack thereof)?

Bueller . . .  Bueller . . . any of this sound familiar?

  • You think you know who your clients are and what they want. But halfway through the project, everything changes. It’s like they’ve been body-snatched. 
  • Constant delays with project deadlines keep happening. But it’s not you. It’s them. 
  • Your scope-of-work is a joke to them.
  • Everything is always so URGENT! And the goalposts are moving — fast. 
  • You survive. You breathe a sigh of relief. They say they’re happy, but you never seem to get any referrals. 
  • It all seems fine (on the surface). But then you find out your PMs are doing whatever the heck they want and there’s no consistency with client management. Ruh roh. 

Nip that chaos in the bud and prevent it from happening ever again when you implement a scalable, repeatable client management process with this first step. 

Every part of your agency’s work, including client management, comes down to getting the right systems in place. Once you do that, wash, rinse, and repeat. 

So, what exactly are you missing in your current client management process? This is the part where we pinpoint and determine the good, the bad, and the ugly with your client management. 

We get rid of the ugly cause nobody got time for that. The bad we improve, and the good we keep doing more of. It’s all part of the next step where we create a baseline so we know what we’re working with, and what we need to add, cut, and optimize. 

C. Create a baseline. 

This stage of the S.C.A.L.E. framework is the temp check. Where’s your agency at right now? Here, we’ll benchmark where you are in your current processes and set a baseline.

To optimize, we’ve got to know precisely where you are in terms of:

  • Tools
  • Checkists
  • Client communication

Who left this dead body over here?!

We’ll also gather information on what level of consistency you currently have between account managers and project managers that are also managing clients. That way, you don’t have to play undertaker when a project closes. 

From here, there’s nowhere to go but up. Because the key to managing your clients is to manage their expectations. Then, we amplify the good stuff. 

A. Amplify how you do it 

We get it, your business can’t just stop. We’re hopping aboard a moving plane. 

We’re not gonna bring it all to screeching halt. Oh no sirree — we will fix it while it’s still in motion.

Here’s what happens during the Amplify stage:

  • Manage your clients’ expectations upfront with clear boundaries. 
  • Figure out how to include margin fees to prevent clients from dragging as$ on their projects. 
  • Filter out red flag leads that’ll make your life a misery. 
  • Assign a single point-of-contact to regulate the number of cooks in the kitchen.
  • Set up automations so you can finish your projects on time and prevent the dreaded scope creep.  
  • Conduct exit interviews to uncover where you can improve, nail down your ideal clients, and close more sales. 
  • Create a system for getting reviews and referrals from your clients.

At this point, we’ll take the best of what you’re doing, and add the best of what you should be doing, mix it together, and get you where you need to be. 

Then what? You get to hand off the reigns with delegation. 

L. Lead and Delegate

Here’s where we bring the rest of your team onboard with the new framework for managing clients. We’ll show you where and how to delegate with:

  • An established set of repeatable communication tools and protocols
  • A way to determine and designate the go-to person for client-facing initiatives
  • Set expectations for reporting, updating, and ongoing processes 
  • Flow and efficiency 

Run your biz instead of it running you. Then, it’s time for you to get out of the way and fully enjoy having your business running on autopilot. 

E. Exit.

Time to get the hell out of the way! We’re saying that like it’s a good thing because, well, it is.  

This is the part you’ve been waiting for — the part where you get to sit back, relax, watch your business grow from the sidelines, and fully enjoy your life outside of work.

But I don’t want to set it and forget it!

Well that’s good, because you still need to maintain some oversight. But you don’t have to work in your business – just on it. How?

Measure your KPIs and watch your accounts grow in realtime. 

Start Growing, Building, and Kicking Butt with S.C.A.L.E.

Managing your clients expectations ss the first step. But here’s the thing — it doesn’t stop there. 

When you work with clients, you’re building a relationship. You have to teach them how to treat you with a healthy set of boundaries. 

So what do boundaries look like in business? They look like a scalable, repeatable process that’s going to work for any client. 

Our framework will help you better manage clients with repeatable steps for the onboarding process before work even starts, and during the project to prevent delays and headaches. That’s what S.C.A.L.E. boils down to — setting up those repeatable steps. 

Get started today. Download our free Client Onboarding Toolkit. It’s not too hard to start implementing a strong foundation for your client management process. 

So, do yourself a favor — get the toolkit. You’re welcome. 

Get the Kick A$ Client Onboarding ToolKit

With an airtight client management process, you’ll have a better system in place for targeting the ideal clients you actually want to work with. Client management makes things much easier on your staff, too, so you can retain your best workers. 

Just say no to herding alley cats. 

Keep projects humming along on time and within budget with a strategic client management process. Contact us for your free consultation. 

Let’s Do This!

Client Interview Questions & Insights

Bill Gates once said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

Wait, what?

Did he just say the most unhappy

What – wait, what about the others?

Well, they add to your learning curve too. 

Provided you know what they are actually thinking!

If you’ve been wracking your brain to find new ways to reach and connect with your target audience, interviewing your clients during the offboarding process can give you great ideas and insight.

A recent colleague asked, “But Juliana, how do you manage to do a great client interview in a candid way, that they spill the beans?”

Well, this is how. 

Scheduling an Exit Interview

I reach out to interviewees a week or two in advance, with a simple email asking their availability for a 25-minute interview.

Once I get a go-ahead, I ask them the following questions during the interview. Let me Disclose these are not my questions. These have been passed down from generation to generation of marketers like a fable and the source has been washed by the sands of time. 

They are still my favorite though. 

Before we jump to the questions, here are a couple of tips for you from a pro:

Pro Tip: These are time-tested questions that have helped me receive some of the best responses ever. Altering them isn’t recommended. At all.

Super Pro Tip: Keep asking “why” to get to the heart of the matter.

Potential Client Interview Questions to Ask

  • Before we started working together, what were you trying to do? What were the challenges you had? What were you trying to accomplish? Why?
  • What were you frustrated by? What problems did we help you solve in your business? Why?
  • What did you want? How do we improve your business? Why? They need your help and are here because they would like to work with you. Try to understand their business ideas and vision so that you can help them better.
  • What are your expectations? Keep track of client’s expectations. As scope and expectations change, so should the contract
  •  What was your fear? What were you concerned about? What was your fear if you didn’t get what you wanted?
  •  How did the other people involved in the decision all feel about this? What did they want? What were they frustrated by? What did they fear?
  • What are your overall budget and projected starting date of the project? Knowing both pieces of information allows you to come up with an accurate estimate that matches not just on price but also helps you to accurately prioritize projects
  • What are your expectations on having good customer service?

If you are not sure if you can actually help improve their business. We would suggest asking your potential clients these critical questions to understand their goals, expectations, plans, and objectives. Don’t over-commit just to win client’s business.

Questions to Understand the Pre-Buying Process

While email marketing doesn’t really focus on these questions, you can use them for future reference, especially while conducting a sales call. Ask these questions to your prospective client,

  •  What was most important to you when you were making a decision?
  •  What factors didn’t matter as much?
  •  Who was involved in the decision-making process? Who made the final decision or signed the contract? What was their title? It’s critical to figure out if you’re speaking to and dealing with the right decision-makers, as well as to understand the entire process for a business or project.
  •  Who else did you look at? What other companies did you talk to? What other ways did you look at solving this problem?
  •  Why did you decide to go with us versus other companies or alternatives?

Questions to Understand the After-Sale Process

  • What do you like about us?
  • How could we improve? Any feedback?
  • If you were to describe what we do to another company, what would you say?
  • Is there anything else you want to add or how we can be helpful?
  • Based on what you know about us, can you think of anyone else whom it might make sense for me to talk to?

To make the process simpler, I open a google doc on my screen before I start the interview and copy and paste the questions listed above.

I take as much notes as I can o catch the feeling that the customer carries for my brand.

Sup Up Client Insights

As it turns out, scheduling an exit interview with your clients helps in getting the much-needed brand clarity to drive more customers to your offerings. 

Conducting an offboarding client exit interview also enables you to figure out what your target audience genuinely wants — not what the industry says they do.

So, if you’re keen on capitalizing on consumer decisions and behavioral studies, begin the charity at home by interviewing your clients during the offboarding process. 

  1. Schedule your exit interview. Use the question “why” to dig for those nuggets of insight.
  2. Ask questions that uncover your client’s pre-buying processes, like why they chose your company over a competitor, and who was the ultimate decision maker.
  3. Uncover your client’s after-sale thoughts. Find out what they enjoyed about working with your company, and what they didn’t. 
  4. Use the end of the interview as an opportunity to ask for referrals. 

Oh, and always remember to thank them before starting the client interviews and again while wrapping up. 

After all, they’re doing you a favor. 

So, be sure to treat it like one.

How to protect your agency and manage a volatile crisis 💪

“Any tips for making sure we don’t derail during this time? I already feel like we’re changing strategies by the second (internally and client-facing) and I want to make sure 1) messaging is consistent, 2) the team doesn’t feel overwhelmed with this very quick change and need for action.

Does that make sense??” [sic] ” asks Kate, a project manager of my beloved client.

It does if:

Your Facebook feed is filled with Corona memes to distract you from

Your news feed that is FUD-filled (fear, uncertainty, doubt – so you don’t have to urban dictionary) with echoes of the last recession

Your WhatsApp is blown up by frantic friends and family away

You’re not sure which clients are sticking around, even if you feel like you have them under legal lock and key.

And worse… you are in a confined space with those closest to you while trying not to kill each other. 🤬 You wish you could SOS yourself out of a Vampirina tranz because kids are home all day.

Oh and did I mention it’s happening to your employees and clients, too?

Now that I have made you feel super warm and fuzzy 😉  I promise there is hope!

In times of crisis, people look for leadership.

  • If you are reading this, you are a leader.
  • Step into it.
  • Own it.

Juliana, “What happened to Kate’s answer… I’m dealing with a crisis over here…tik toc “

Here’s my video response to her:

 The best crisis management we can model is the Situation Room of the United States (setting aside your feelings about the current administration)

It’s an effective way of managing crisis because it swiftly and effectively deals with the volatility by managing:

  • Information: parsing and prioritizing data that’s incoming from various sources
  • Dissemination: to whom and how to share relevant and urgent communication
  • Action: deploying and implementing tactics despite a barrage of new information coming at you (i.e revenue and resource changes)
  • Support: making sure the nation (in your case – clients and team) feel supported throughout
  • Action: deploying and implementing tactics despite a barrage of new information coming at you (i.e revenue and resource changes)

Five simple things to implement your own “Situation Room”:

  1. The Situation Room – needs to take place in real life (preferably with social distancing in this case). Whether that is a Slack channel, Zoom huddle or your team sneaks into a football field and then stands 6 feet apart (jk), you need a time and place to gather the info with the Gladiators you appoint.
  2. Opening and closing debriefs – there is a phenomenal amount of info to digest between closing shop and opening … then it cycles throughout the day. This is crucial to pivot and/or course-correct quickly.
  3. Create a change board in your project manager – – this is a project or board where new ideas that flood from you and the team get placed to be approved, denied or delayed based on resources and urgency. This will help keep track of all competing projects and ideas.
  4. Measure the capacity of both hours and emotional stress –  this is a prime time for people to be on edge and overwhelmed. Track hours for the good of everyone’s sanity. Support your people by checking in. Are their families healthy? Will they have wifi outages (SE ASIA)? Do they need to make appointments to go to supermarkets(certain South American countries)? Stay informed… Any new data will: Affect workflow. Affect productivity. Affect your business.
  5. Lastly Lead –
    In your industry.
    In your business.
    In your home.

As a kid, my stepdad would constantly ask me “Are you a leader or a follower?” That is ingrained in my head. Be the reliable, constant, future thinker your team and clients need you to be.

If you need to silently scream into a pillow, reach out and I’ve got your back.

Leadership is the manifestation of Expansion, Empathy, and Empowerment.

Kick some ass and let me know if you have any questions.

Legit, send me an email – I read them all (I’m unfortunately addicted and stuck at home), I promise to respond.

Let’s grow together.

The Ultimate Hack for Improving Client Engagement

Luuuucy… You have some splainin’ to do!!! (Did I just age myself with this reference?)

I’m about to hop on a call with a client that may or may not have done their work for the meeting (ahem).

I ask myself: “Where are they in their business? And what’s on the schedule for today?”

But first, let’s rewind a few months.

I used to track my client engagement on a spreadsheet that I called Actions2Scale (fancy right?) in google drive. It had all the components I needed:

      • Meeting dates
      • What was accomplished during each meeting
      • What the deliverables were
      • Any notes my client or I had

The problem was that as a consultant, there are a lot of tangible worksheets and documents that my clients and I share, and since my average client is with me for about 7 months, this spreadsheet inevitably grew long, confusing and not easily searchable. Not only that, but with the mish-mosh of documents in google drive – we could never find anything quickly!

Since most of my clients are visual thinkers, I thought I would give Trello a shot. And boy am I happy I did! Here’s what it looks like:

ScaleTime Roadmap Trello

1. Creating a Visual Roadmap

The first thing I do with my clients now is create a roadmap with all the modules of our engagement on the first few lists.

Keep in mind that pre-Trello, there was no visual roadmap for the client to know where we were going. No matter how much I listed out the milestones and talked about the direction of the engagement and what we were going to do next, there was NO VISUAL REMINDER.

It was like being on a road trip with my client, who kept innocently asking “are we there yet?” every 5 minutes.

In their defense though, it wasn’t their fault!

The problem was they didn’t know what had already been done, and what was still left to do. For the productivity geeks out there – I implemented some kanban-esque methodology. Fortunately, in Trello when we are done with a topic I can change the color (nifty right?). Take a look:

ScaleTime Trello Program

2. Forget About Client Amnesia

Client amnesia is a common condition in which the client can’t seem to remember the amazing work we’ve done together.

Symptoms include saying things like “I love this system – it literally takes me 2 minutes to do a proposal. Oh, was it you that helped me implement this?”

This used to raise my blood pressure and frustrate me to no end. Now, I just point them to the Trello board as I gleefully put my feet on my desk. After all, it’s a great way to show a historical record of everything that was accomplished. All without saying a single word. Not bad if you ask me!

3. When Clients “Hijack”

This doesn’t happen as much in my practice anymore (thank the lord!), but in the past I had clients take over the session with “emergencies” or what they thought were urgent questions. In other words, “Drop everything and help me now!”

Ever since I started using Trello however, clients can see for themselves when a task moves from this month to next month for example. Suddenly the urge to hijack a session is trumped by the urge to complete what they started.

Tweet this: A client’s urge to hijack a session is trumped by the urge to complete what they started.

It’s a beautiful thing, really. The psychology of wanting to see the white cards turn blue ( labeled complete) and knowing that this particular urgency will be covered in a systematic way puts a cease and desist on wasting time. (Can I get an amen!?)

4. Say Goodbye to Inbox Flooding

With Trello, there is simply no flooding of inboxes with back and forth updates, deliverables, homework, pre-work, or any kind of work really. It’s all in a nice checklist where clients can reference their tasks whenever they want, from anywhere in the world.

I’ve actually had clients text me in their PJ’s just to tell me how much they enjoyed checking a few items from their list.

Do NOT underestimate the need to complete things!

5. Delegating Tasks Has Never Been Easier

My clients can now share their board with their staff to strategize or delegate the work, and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Nuff said.

6. Get Organized!

Out of all the benefits, one of my favorites is never hearing this question: “Where is that document again?”

Whether your documents are located in dropbox, a company server, or google docs, you can link to them inside the topics in Trello. Everything has context and searchability.

Yeah baby!

To sum up, here are all the benefits of using a project management tool to manage your client engagement:

      • Clients have a visual roadmap
      • Client Amnesia cured
      • No more session hijacking
      • Inbox flooding eliminated
      • Easy to delegate tasks to team members
      • Great way to organize documents

So let me ask you… How are YOU tracking your client engagement, and giving your clients direction in the process?

I recommend Trello (obviously), but I’m also open to learning about other options that would incorporate some or all of the concepts I discussed in this article.

I would love to hear from you either way!