When you think about how long something so simple can take, it’s a bit mind boggling, isn’t it? Lots of games of telephone and email tag can happen from the start to finish of a project. In this predominantly virtual world of working together, there are still many ways we can optimize working with our clients. Take a look at some of our tips on the different ways you can streamline your working relationships.
Host Live Working Sessions
While the initial thought of having someone watch you work and direct you on-the-spot seems daunting, it can actually help close out a task much quicker. This is a great visual way to help a client communicate what they want versus trying to understand it in written format. They can quickly say “oh yes, that!” or “oh no, I meant this” and watch you make updates in the correct direction. This style of working takes patience, on the client’s end and ours. The person making the update can feel rushed at times, but if expectations are set at the beginning that it takes several seconds for a website to refresh or a designer needs a little room to be able to tweak things so they are just-right, it can be mutually beneficial.
This is also a great way for the person in charge of making the updates to hear first-hand what the client is trying to say. As an account manager, we are often making our best attempt to translate to our team what our client is trying to get across, which can in-turn leave a lot of room for things to get lost in translation.
Utilize Project Briefs
Project briefs are a wonderful way to keep all necessary information about a project in one centralized location. At Zion & Zion, we have several different types of briefs for the various types of work we do. The account manager can work directly with a client to get all the details correctly hammered out, so nothing gets lost in translation or assumed. This allows for both parties to have an approved document of what exactly is expected to safeguard against potential confusion. This also sets accountability for project details to be thought through on both the client side and our side. The client always knows more about what they want and who they need to appease, and the agency always knows more about which elements are truly required to meet those needs.
Join Their Workspace
Most companies have several different ways they keep track of their work, so why not get on board? Instead of relying on email communications to handle deliverables, request to be added to their project management systems and chat systems. Joining their project management system allows you both to have better visibility on where things stand in their queue, easily loop in others from their organization to collaborate, and for work to be in an easy-to-find place versus buried in email. Joining their chat system allows you both to get answers easily or talk through any confusion points before it gets finalized by the production team. There’s also a relational perk to this working style; the natural progression to have a friendly rapport and showcase your personalities a little more, which in-turn can strengthen your relationship.
Utilize Collaboration Documents
Instead of passing documents back and forth with version control getting way out of hand (we’ve all seen the FINAL-V6 at the end of a document), you can use something like Google Drive, which has options for collaborative written documents and spreadsheets. This allows you both to always have access to an up-to-date version, work together on the document at the same time, and track revisions using revision history. You can give multiple users access to the document so anyone who needs to have eyes on it can be involved as well. There is always an option to export the document should you need a version for your record keeping, so while dynamic documents can scare some, this feature is not lost!
Setup Progress Check-In Calls
For many clients who have on-going work with us, we like to setup project status calls. This can either be weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly depending on the frequency in which you need to touch base. This is a great way to track all the different items going on within an agenda and allow you to get quick answers on anything pending from the clients. We like to have multiple people on these calls so everyone can be on the same page and hear things from the clients firsthand. When status calls are held by just the account manager, it does not give the light needed to the team helping make sure everything runs smoothly. When clients can see the key players involved in their project, it gives more depth to the relationship and a better understanding of how much of a village it does take!
Implement Design Thinking Strategies
There are also opportunities to implement Design Thinking methodologies with our clients, which is an interactive design principle in which Zion & Zion prides itself in training team members on. Design Thinking tackles multifaceted problems by empathizing with a human need, defining what the problem is, ideating different options of solutions, prototyping a select amount of those solutions and testing them to see what actually works.
For example, this can be easily used in the digital media advertising channels. Work with your client to come up with several different options of what we know a user might resonate with. Don’t spend too long trying to perfect it with assumptions. Send those ads out there and see what works. Within the appropriate amount of time, shut down what isn’t working and keep building off what is working for the next round. It’s extremely easy to take weeks on end, tweaking and refining something based on our own assumptions. We live in an advertising age where we can switch things out left and right, so let’s take advantage of that and learn from real interactions.
These are just some of the many ways we find it helpful to make working with our clients smarter, not harder. We know our clients have a lot going on outside of us, so our goal is to make sure they find working with us to be easy.