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!

How to Organize Client Folders & Files: 6 Simple Tips to Try

Frustrated team, inefficient processes, overwhelmed brain . . . you know how it feels when your business tends to fade fast.

Help! I’m going crazy with all the digital paperwork!

This is an issue I often see when my clients and prospects are overwhelmed with the “piles” of digital documents around them.

What could be the culprit? 

Poorly organized, or even worse, unorganized client folders.

So, how to focus on the business and tend to the customers and clients when you have to hunt down hundreds of documents to get things done?

With folder structure.

Did you know that the typical American employee/employer spends two hours a week just trying to find papers?

Woah, that’s about a hundred hours a year!

Just take a deep breath and imagine you’re losing more than a hundred hours of productivity every year.

That’s profitability running straight out the door.

Losing money because your paperwork is not organized? It sucks.

But you can put a halt to all that disorder-craziness with a proper folder structure in place.

A Common Lost Brain Example

You’re in the middle of the day, and you’re trying to find a piece of paper, an article, or a client asset. So, you click at one folder, then another, and then another. But you can’t find what you need. 

You ring your co-worker and ask them if they know where the item is located? They say they’ll check and revert.

You wait and wait and wait.

Only to hear that they couldn’t find it either.

This is a classic scenario of LOST BRAIN.

You end up wasting your time — asking everyone around you to figure out what you need because you don’t know where it is.

But the good news is, you can STOP that.

And, INSTEAD, you can just go into your organized folder structure and get what you want. Quickly!

Because you know precisely where it lives and where it should be at all times.

This thing/item/document that you might be looking for is the BRAIN of your business.

It could be:

  • Clients’ assets
  • Proposals
  • Scopes
  • Change orders
  • Content
  • Deliverables
  • Milestones
  • Meeting notes
  • Meeting agendas
  • Frameworks, and
  • Anything that you’re producing for the client

So, where does it live?

It could live in a file, a folder, in your drawer, or a cabinet that has piles of paperwork already.

Take your BRAIN out of the DIGITAL MESS.

And make sure everything in your business has its organization.

Why?

Because you don’t want to end up hunting people down for everything you need.

Imagine this: If an employee leaves and you hire someone else, how do you expect the new employee to ramp up? Can they seamlessly pick up from where the previous employee left off?

Not unless there is a folder structure. It’s the only thing that can help them easily replace the brain of the previous employee.

And what would be the results in that case? 

Quick delivery, fewer hassles.

Understanding where your brain lives will not only help you train people faster, it will help you make more money by delivering to clients more quickly.

Overall, your profitability will increase, and you’ll better navigate and grow your business.

DIGITIZE and ORGANIZE Your Brain

Once you know where your brain lives, it’s time to digitize and organize.

This is where a folder structure or a folder taxonomy comes and changes everything — for the better, of course.

Excellent delegation isn’t a myth.

You can make that happen. But how?

By having all your papers, documents, and files in specified places and organizing them into folder structures. So that the next time someone needs a document, they don’t have to make a hundred clicks to get to it.

A well-organized folder structure will save time and $$$ for your business. And it will help you manage your business better. 

Give Your Business a Fulfilling Run. Ready, Set, Go!

Not knowing where your brain lives is a huge drain on your business productivity, sales, and profitability.

Understand where your brain lives, organize client folders, and save time and money.

While you are trying to find your brain, check this case study to learn how one of my clients doubled her sales, tripled her team in size, and decreased her expenses in less than one year. Oh, and guess what? You can do it too. Just ask ScaleTime how.

What is Folder Structure?

You’re working on an important deadline, when ding!, there comes a message from your colleague:

Hey, do you have that meeting note from last month’s meeting with that fussbudget client? He is asking for something that seems out of scope, and the boss wants us to dig in and check if his request is legit.”

Uh oh. That’s a message you wouldn’t want to see.

But you did. 

And, darn, there’s no escape.

Now, you’ll have to scroll through hundreds of folders and documents to find a simple record that you should’ve kept handy.

In fact, until now, it was handy. Or was it?

Well, this is why you need a folder structure.

Think of it as that binder you store all your physical documents in. It kills disorderliness and keeps everything organized on your systems.

It’s your solution to document clutter.

How To Build A Client Folder Taxonomy?

  1. Create a template — Have a standard folder structure template in place. When you know how to create a folder structure quickly, you’ll spend less time making it when you scale.
  2. Define the hierarchy — Don’t dump everything in folders. Focus on a logical progression and categorize the folders either by project, client, or department.
  3. Label them right — Hey, don’t rush when saving files in folders. Name everything descriptively to save time and frustration as you search later on.
  4. Create shortcuts –—While an efficient folder structure is your savior in most scenarios, you need shortcuts for the most commonly used folders and subfolders. But, don’t flood your system with shortcuts either. Go easy on them.
  5. Version and Iteration control — Create processes for storing and keeping track of versions and iterations of deliverables.

Why is Folder Structure Important?

Well, a good folder structure is crucial in various scenarios:

  • When you want to find an item without wasting your time
  • When you want to make your systems easier to manage and sustainable
  • When you want to reduce the digital mess
  • When you want to avoid the risk of people using the wrong document
  • When you want to have a structured approach to manage all the deliverables and documents and enable sensible search

So, there you have it, the ultimate guide on saving time with folder structures.

Master the Skill of Folder Structure

When it comes to managing client folders, you need a folder structure that makes document search easier and folder organization better.

Level up your folder structure skills by:

  • Creating a folder structure
  • Using templates
  • Maintaining a folder hierarchy
  • Labeling files, folders, and everything in between
  • Creating shortcuts
  • Implementing version/iteration control

Before you get busy with creating that perfect folder structure, download this free client onboarding guide and toolkit to optimize your client onboarding process.

If you have any tips to make the most of the folder structure, leave a comment below. And if you are facing any struggles or challenges with your folder structure, let us know.

How to Find the Cracks in Your Client Process

CLIENT (internal dialogue): OMG they think I’m crazy. I just want it how I want it. Aaaaand it WILL most likely happen again! Oooops. 

YOU (internal dialogue): You are insane. I’m going nuts. I might kill you — but I won’t … because I need to pay overhead.

Take a mind reading microscope to the typical scenario of dealing with a tough client, and it looks something like the above exchange. 

If you’ve been in business for quite some time now, chances are you’ve met at least one such wacky client. 

They can be are demanding.

They can be are usually unclear with their requirements.

Or, they can be terrible for no reason.

You know the drill, right?

But when a client gives you a hard time, and there’s no silver lining whatsoever, what can you do to protect your sanity while getting the job done? 

You’ll want to identify the cracks in your client process. 

How? 

By improving your client onboarding process and tightening up the scope of your projects. 

Identify Cracks in the Client Process

Here are five ways you can find the cracks in your client process and improve your client onboarding and scope creation.

1. You’re behind schedule because of the client.

You have a lovely client. It’s a pleasure to deal with them. The only problem is the project delays. In fact, there are a lot of them. Why? Well, because of the client.

Sound unusual?

Trust me, it happens so much we call it “client dragging a$$ syndrome.”

Many of my customers ask, “Juliana, what can I do if I fall behind schedule thanks to client-induced delays?”

I suggest two solutions in this scenario:

  • Add a buffer to each project’s deadline
  • Charge a margin fee for any project extensions past the agreed-upon deadline 

2. Scope of work? What’s that?

You may have mapped out an SOW that’s a thing of beauty. 

But what if your client doesn’t understand it? 

Or, even worse, doesn’t follow it on purpose — thanks to the whole “customer-is-the-king” song playing in their head all the time.

Instead of giving in to their “special” requests as “extras” and working beyond the scope for free, be upfront. Set clear boundaries, and avoid that grumble later on.

3. It’s urgent! It always is!

Well, here comes the most dreaded of them all — the one who is always running on tight timelines and wants quick results. Make sure your onboarding process is competent enough to filter out leads that want you to work on ridiculously short time frames. 

It’s no good. 

Being on a client’s beck and call constantly never is.

4. Hey client, “You’ve got an email!”

There are clients who are too occupied to check their emails and messages. 

And there are clients who just don’t bother to revert. 

Either way, it’s annoying to work with a bad communicator.

Whether you need feedback or sign off, reduce the frequency of contact to weekly check-ins, and use online tools like Slack and Asana, if possible.

 5.  Too many junior cooks in the kitchen.

Too many people working on a project? 

Result? 

Chaos and confusion abound! 

Goalposts change, quality decreases, and more time is spent organizing and sorting things out than on actual work.

While you can’t remove stakeholders from a project, crowdsourcing can allow them to be heard. 

Having a single point of contact for collecting and disseminating information can also prevent your project from becoming a fine kettle of fish.

Also, try automating the process. 

Assigning a single-point-of-contact and setting up automations can help everyone involved in the project. It’s a major step toward better collaboration. You can trust me on this (and on all of the other points too, btw). 

That’s the problem with a client process. 

You commit too much, you look needy. 

Not enough, you seem too laid back.

Clients commit too much, they’re lovely. 

Not enough, they’re busy.

Why, oh why, this discrimination?

Set clear expectations before you sign a contract. 

And create an unbiased onboarding client process that’ll help you identify red-flags while dealing with a potential overly-demanding client.

If, still, you happen to encounter a difficult-to-please customer, try one of the methods listed-above before giving up on them.

🤺Find, Fill and bulletproof the cracks in your process: 

  1. Set clear boundaries upfront about scope, and add buffers to the project deadlines
  2. Include margin fees for Client-Dragging-A$$ syndrome
  3. Filter out leads who want to work on crazy timelines
  4. Assign a single-point-of-contact
  5. Use automations

It may not be easy. But it’s worth it. 

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.

How to Deal with Client Demands that Mess Up Your Workflow

Your clients are the reason that your project management is flowing.

You were doing the happy dance after landing that new client. Wooot woot.

But it’s been a couple of weeks and the emails, the texts, the voicemails, and questions at ungodly hours just keep pouring in. You’re starting to wonder if that additional $$$ is worth all the time they’re sucking out of you.

Juliana “I’m going batshit. How do I deal with all these ridiculous, requests that leave me frustrated and annoyed?”

BUT, have you ever thought your time isn’t being sucked dry by your engagement, but actually by your onboarding?

Onboarding Clients

>>> Click here to download the easy Onboarding Checklist if you know you have issues with crazy client requests.

Breaking out of the “request” trap: a quick story…

Armando is a client of mine who does digital marketing. He came to me because he felt like he was at capacity.

He had no weekends, no time for his partner and started to see the signs of an intsy bit of muffin top because the treadmill was collecting dust.

Every day he crossed his fingers that a client didn’t call him because he just didn’t have the time, energy or even the patience to even deal with them. His saying was, “If they are not calling it means everything is great.” They were constantly asking him to make changes and do reporting he was never getting paid for. (Sound familiar?)

So we took a look at his client engagements to assess what was affecting his ability to produce results.

And the discoveries were surprising … well, for him at least.

We realized that many of his client issues had very little to do with capacity and almost everything to do with onboarding — not setting up boundaries and expectations, or even knowing what the clients’ digital marketing starting point was in the first place.

I told Armando…

Your clients are trying to board a plane to an amazing destination, but if you want to take on a great volume of clients, you are going to have to go TSA on their ass and make sure they know the rules before boarding”.

We all hate the TSA strip search, the 100ml bottle restrictions, no shoes, no sweater, taking out your laptop — we hate it, BUT we comply anyway. There’s a process — if you travel you are made aware and get conditioned to it. There is simply no wiggle room.

The same needs to happen with your service business. Then plenty of people can happily board for your destination.

So we set up his onboarding process, created an actionable workflow in his project manager, saved 20 hours a month, and were then able to increase his revenue by 45% in the next three months.

The best part was that he had now his whole process documented and hired a client success manager to take care of onboarding and client service. Whhhhhaaat!? Yeah, how relieving it is to read as a business owner. 

Love to get the same results?

>>> Click here to download my Client Onboarding Checklist if you want to see what we used for Armando’s onboarding.

Bonus Tip: Establishing ground rules is going to create the biggest 80/20 impact for your onboarding. Think about:

    • When do you want them to reach you?
    • What’s the rule for scheduling — i.e. 48 hours, 24? (And is there a consequence to this?)
    • How many points of contact will there be for you? Which team members are you engaging with?
  • If you have a tangible deliverable: How many edits or iterations are you allowing in the scope of work before there is a change order?

Disclaimer: Don’t tell your bad clients about how they are hijacking your session or project!

Your clients are the bloodline of your business. But, more often than you want to, they get into your nerves. They demand stuff that is out of the contract, unreasonable, or simply out of this world!

Thankfully, you don’t have to lose your sanity to keep your difficult clients. You don’t have to do all of their requests either. In the end, the client will thank you for not giving-in into their crazy requests. Just look at this design disaster that happened to a Japanese noodle company when the designer said yes to all of the client’s demands.

This was the designer’s first draft.
Design example

But apparently, the client pretends to be an expert in design so more demands are made.

Until the demands went out of control…

Presenting, the final product- this is how your project will turn out if you say yes to the client all the time even if they’re completely cracked.

Design meme

You can get through these chaotic client requests and unrealistic expectations with win-win solutions through effective project management. Here are some tips to keep you sane while addressing your beloved but not so likable difficult clients.

1. Technically set yourself up

Make sure your ship is in tip-top shape before the storm hits! Do I hear an aye aye captain? You’re setting yourself up for a disaster if your company is already in chaos before more craziness comes in.

If you have all your systems in place, it’ll be easier to regain composure no matter how crazy the demand of your client will be. You have two things to set up; the system and the person.

Your system is like a conveyor belt, every step ensures that a perfect product will come out. The person you assign will serve as the account manager. Remember, keeping your clients happy is important so choose someone who can be calm (or pretend to be) even during surprise requests from bad clients. She or he has to be credible because every request will be funneled to him or her.

2. Categorize the request

You have to clarify if the request makes sense. Because, sometimes, we don’t know what kind of sorcery comes into clients’ minds that they make insane wishes. Just look at the advertisement for the cup noodle above! Yes it take a bit of extra effort but it’s worth it in the long run

Next, if you have decided that the request makes sense, ensure that it is part of your scope. This is one of the reasons why project managers lose profit. They end up doing stuff that they aren’t supposed to be doing in the first place!

If the request is not in your contract, you have to decide if you want to do it just because you want to impress your client. If not, talk to your client to modify the scope and adjust the budget accordingly.

3. Watch your timeline

Be realistic about your team’s capacity. Don’t forget that you only have twenty-four hours, and those hours are not made for work alone. You, your teammates, and your employees are not superheroes.
Be outright in telling your client if tight deadlines are unrealistic. Most deadlines are flexible, don’t be afraid to negotiate.

You’re not a time wizard, you know. Sure your client might want that rush job or extended labor they don’t even have to pay for but we all get how frustrating it can be when clients expect us to complete an impossible amount of quality work in the space of a day, or even mere hours.

4. Speak straightforwardly

No need for sugar coating here honey. You’ve already gained your client, so stop the sweet talk. What you need is to be able to communicate honestly and effectively so that you can help your client reach their goals.

Some of the client’s request may not be helping them to reach their goals. Whatever their reason is for making outlandish wishes, it is your job to make them see the bigger picture. Insist on what you know. They hired you for your expertise because you know better. So hold your ground, they’ll thank you for it in the end.

Conclusion:

Clients are not always right. If they are, they wouldn’t need your help! Be kind but firm when a bad client tries to mess up with your project management workflow. Your client is not trying to make you crazy. He or she may just be misguided or overwhelmed. You both want the same thing, a successful project, so work together to make it happen. Another reason to not fulfill all client demands that are not in the project scope is that your other prospective clients may expect the similar special treatment you’re giving to the demanding client. 

The next time a client makes an out of this world request, remember the following:

  1. Technically set yourself up
  2. Categorize the request
  3. Watch your timeline
  4. Speak straightforwardly

Now most of you will take action, BUT…

…for those of you who’d love some ideas that are more specific to your business, I’m super happy to hop on a quick call to chat about what you need to have a headache free client relationship. I take the first three inquiries every week, so click here to schedule yours now!

Onboarding hacks

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!