In a world full of various means of communication, how does Advantec effectively communicate internally and with our clients?
Sound communication is essential in most (if not every) business, but it’s crucial for digital agencies to communicate with our clients for a number of reasons:
- We like our clients to see what projects we’re working on for them at the moment
- We report on the last quarter/the last year of work for our clients, so they have an idea about where they’re at
- Jocelyn (our Marketing Executive) gives our clients all the dates for our upcoming events (training courses, seminars and networking events)
- We want clients to be up to date with our company news. Some agencies may not take the ‘personal approach’, but we certainly do!
- Clients should always be aware of who is working on their account, so if we get any new recruits, we’ll always let them know!
How do we communicate the above with our clients?
Each client has an individual personality, and each main contact will prefer one means of communication over another. For example, one of our Development clients really sees the benefit in receiving a Toggl report on how much time we’ve spent specifically on each task. On the other hand, one of our Marketing clients doesn’t see as much value in this and prefers to be updated in frequent meetings and phone calls with the team and our Account Manager.
We use the following to communicate with our clients:
- Google Hangouts
- Active Collab
- Quarterly Meetings
- Weekly phone calls
- Reports (using DashThis)
In a nutshell, what works for one client, may not work for another.
Be flexible in your communicative approach, and give your clients options on how they want to be communicated with.
How do we communicate internally?
Not only do we have to keep in contact with our clients about the work we’re doing for them, but we need to make sure we all know what we’re up to. You know what they say, teamwork makes the dream work! So how do we communicate internally?
- Internal email systems
- Google Hangouts
- Active Collab
- General chit-chat
- ‘Advantec Assemble’ – Our WhatsApp group (yes, we’re obsessed with Marvel)
How can you make the best of your communication systems?
This is a free internal communications system. An instant messenger system (similar to WhatsApp), we use it to have a non-work related chat and to also ask team members direct questions if they’re busy working on a task, but we need an answer quickly. We keep it running in the background, so if someone asks you something, it comes up with a little pop-up message on the right-hand side of your screen.
Slack can also be used to integrate yours and your client’s team, by adding one Slack account to another. This is fantastic if a client wants to ask for your help with something at that moment in time (they’ve also added voice and video calls too). Be careful though – some people can become too reliant on this tool, and it’s best to have work that needs doing, properly formalised (so that nothing is ever missed, forgotten about or lost in the depths of Slack)!
Another great feature in Slack is that you can create private groups. No Dev wants to read constant updates about one of our marketing clients (and vice versa), so these stay hidden to the other teams that aren’t involved with that client or project. Don’t worry, it doesn’t make you ‘cliquey’, we have two groups with every staff member involved because we still like to bounce off each other, share ideas and chat about company updates!
In the words of AC (Active Collab) – ‘Communication is what makes or breaks any project’.
This is our choice for a project management tool (amongst the hundreds out there), that once you get to grips with, is very easy to understand and use as part of your everyday work routine. It also helps our team stay organised while they juggle between multiple projects.
Our fave features:
Similar to Slack, you can ‘@mention’ one of the team and get instant answers, and start group discussions.
Probably the most important feature for us, is being able to add our clients to AC and enabling them to see what tasks have been worked on, and what is in the pipeline (and for most people, this gives peace of mind that work is being produced on time, within their budget and to a very good standard).
Lastly, Active Collab also enables us to offer total transparency to all our clients (Development and Marketing) meaning that no one is ever in the dark about how we’re spending their time/money.
If you follow our blog updates, you’ll already know how much of a big fan we are of DashThis (the tailor-made client reporting tool, that allows agencies and marketers to gather their marketing campaign data in one place).
Here, we describe the ease and simplicity of DashThis (not forgetting how pretty it is). It literally has all the integrations any marketer could possibly need – making the whole process of reporting actually fun… Who would have thought?!
We do the legwork (if you can even call it that) by setting up a report for a client and integrating whatever tools they want (that can be LinkedIn, Google Analytics, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google AdWords and MailChimp… The list goes on and on and on)! We’ll then share the report with the client so they can visualise (very easily) their data and stats, without opening hundreds of tabs or taking valuable time out our (or their) day.
It’s entirely up to the client when they want to read their report, but we add ongoing commentary to explain what all the stats and figures mean. Since DashThis is available 24/7 and always up to date, clients can check on how their website or marketing strategy is going at any time!
All of our Retainer clients receive regular reports from our time tracker, Toggl. They will get alerts when they reach 50% and 75% thresholds of their allowances, enabling them to keep track of how quickly they are using their retainer time. They then all receive a full quarterly report from Toggl at the end of each quarter so they can see exactly how much of their time we spent on each individual task.
Some agencies track first and charge later, but this means clients never know how big an invoice they’re going to end up with! We prefer to use tracking to keep within the confines of our clients budgets and needs, with consistent and informative regular reporting so that everyone gets great value for money.
One big factor of sound communication is having someone there to encourage and support that communication. Kelly (our Client Services Manager) is there for us in that regard, by making sure our clients are spoken to every day. She listens to any concerns clients may have about their business and takes on board all their comments to make sure we’re always thinking of more ideas to drive the success of our client’s business.
Kelly is our main point of contact for our clients, but that doesn’t mean our clients can’t contact a specific member of the team, for example when a client needs to talk about increasing their Ad spend, they will usually contact Andy (our Senior Campaign Manager).
Utilise the tools you have and get creative with how you communicate with your clients. Communication is the key to your success.