“Many thanks”. What does that even mean? In my head, I’m envisaging someone carrying a huge wicker basket full of ‘thanks’, dishing them out to everyone who walks by. It’s such a strange and formal term and one I really struggle with as an account manager.
When it comes to our clients, I like to make them feel as at home as possible and that starts from our very first email contact. Often, it’s their first interaction with Flow as a team so it’s important that they feel looked after and welcomed from the get-go. Despite the old adage, clients are people, not dragons so it’s best to communicate with them in that way.
I find that when I introduce more friendly, conversational language, clients relax and respond more openly to me about their project aims. No one wants to be spoken to as if there’s a robot on the other end – they want to know that it’s Sarah, who’ll just nip over to the animation team and let them know of any amends that need sorting.
Building that rapport is much like building a friendship, albeit a professional one. I find face-to-face time or calls are the best way to do that as it gives me a good sense of who I’m working with and how they like to work. It’s my job as an account manager to find out what they’re about so I can ensure the project runs as smoothly as possible.
Finding ways to connect with clients makes for a better project and a more trusting working relationship. Maybe they like a rhubarb gin of a Saturday evening. Maybe their son plays ice hockey on a Wednesday night. Or maybe they have a real passion for Harry Styles – I mean, who doesn’t? Whatever makes them tick, getting to know about it can really help with project management.
It’s helpful when you need to have those more awkward conversations, too. If you’ve worked hard to build a relationship, suddenly explaining a difficult deadline doesn’t feel like ‘pushing back’. So remove that daunting feeling and chat it through over a coffee. Your clients know you’re human too, and there’s always a way to problem solve when you feel like you’re part of the same team, clichéd as that sounds.
Of course, you always need to read the situation. Not every client is going to be a fan of you signing off an email with ‘cheers!’, or laughing on the phone about bad karaoke at their friend’s wedding. It goes without saying, but it’s always important to keep that professional air amid building your rapport. Some clients like formality and that’s fine, that’s what works for them and allows them to get the job done. It’s your responsibility to use your emotional intelligence as an account manager and trust your instinct.
So, don’t be afraid to get under your client’s skin to understand their nuances. From my experience, it’s the best way to get the most out of the project for everyone involved. Give it a go, what’s the worst that could happen?
Ta v much 😉