I’ve spent many years working in large organizations where the marketing and communications teams need to serve as a support function to the business unit leadership, working in many ways like an internal agency. We often referred to our colleagues in the business units as “clients” and strived to provide great client service. The trouble is that budgets and staff resources are always at a minimum and there’s no way you can meet all of the client demands. In these situations, I’ve learned, it’s helpful to lean heavily on expectation-setting and not over-promising beyond what you can truly deliver.
Here are some of the strategies I’ve found particularly helpful to successfully navigate these sticky situations.
1. How do you make them feel? Your relationship with the client is often less about what you do for them and more about how you make them feel when you’re with them. In a world where most people are under extreme pressure to perform, sleep deprived and on deadline, it’s important to pay attention to our attitude (be positive) and make sure we present our best self. Many times clients think of marketing/communications as the “fun time” of their day and want to “be creative” and enjoy the time with you. Other times they might look to you as a confidant, or want to chat about their weekend. Be friendly, be curious, give them your full attention and make them feel as though they are the most important person in your world in that moment. Because they need to be.