My Wednesday night was filled with emails from a client who was less than thrilled about our recent delivery on a campaign we launched together. Less than thrilled is a nice way, he was actually raging with anger. Without knowing what exactly happened because my sales guy handled all aspects of this my first thought was to wait until Thursday morning to get to the bottom before engaging my client.
The good news is I responded right back with a , “I will get to the bottom of this first thing in the morning and call you.”
Sounds simple right? For many, it isn’t.
At drinks with another client last night I was reminded how simple of a task this is. Simple Client 101 Engagement. Acknowledge something has taken place and engage.
My client was telling me stories last night of managers and account directors who won’t respond for days to crisis emails as if to say they don’t give a shit. Nothing can be more damaging than a lack of communication during this process.
This leads me to write the 2 Simple a rules for Client Engagement.
1. Always respond. Respond quickly too. Just like any good PR Team will tell you, the quicker the response the better. Acknowledgement is key. You may not have all the answers but you can acknowledge that you understand the situation and that you will be in touch soon with a resolve.
On Wednesday my client immediately wrote me back to say he understood and that he looked forward to my response the next day.
Rather than allow him to stew all night and be angry, he knew we would handle it quickly.
2. Show Empathy. Yes it’s difficult sometimes especially if you think the client is wrong and that saying the “customer is always right” doesn’t always pertain. That doesn’t matter. Your client will be quick to hear the empathy in your voice an appreciate your concern for them. This doesn’t mean you lay down an get run over, it just means you hear them out and respond calmly and with concern for their business moving forward.
On Thursday morning when I got on the phone with our client, I was met with a speakerphone and a room full of angry people. I quickly defused the situation though by expressing my concern for the issue at hand and we were able to come to a resolve.
I easy could have blamed them for their cheap ways and high volume approach but I chose to accept this business and it is a consequence I have to live by.
Stick to these two rules in any client engagement situation but especially in a time of crisis.