Tips for clients - from someone who was one

At Shout, most of our client facing colleagues have a ‘previous life’ in the commercial world, and are experienced digital practitioners in their own right.  

Client partner Rachel is the newest face in our commercial team and has put together a round up of the things she’s learned in the switch, while that fresh perspective is still… well, fresh. Over to you, Rachel…  

Tips for clients - from someone who was one

In 2022 I packed my bags and left my role as a Senior Commercial Manager for a large museum in London to pursue a new career in Tech back in my native North-East.  

Today, I’m a Senior Client Partner for Shout Digital, and work with my clients to facilitate their digital projects, collaborate on their roadmaps, and ensure their vision is understood across our delivery team.  

But, before all this I WAS the client – managing an eCommerce operation within a £4m+ annual turnover.

So, what have I learned on this journey to the other side?  

1. Nobody knows your business, or your customer, better than you. 

There are all sorts of reasons why you might need to engage a digital agency; whether it be a one-off piece of small but essential change, meeting cyber-security or accessibility best practice, or larger-scale projects and digital transformation.  

Whatever your needs, your agency’s team of experts will be able to deliver your brief better the more context you can give them. For example:  

  • Your audience  do you have information available on your customer profiles to help the agency tailor their work to your needs? Customer personas and pen portraits are excellent for this purpose.
  • Your objectives and driving principles for example, are you interested in serving information as quickly and easily as possible, or looking to drive deeper engagement and conversion?  
  • Your industry and competitors what does good look like elsewhere in your industry? What are the quirks and trends? This context will help generate ideas for innovation that can give you a competitive advantage.

2. The devil is in the detail. 

An old Commercial Director of mine was famed for quipping ‘retail’s detail!’ on a near daily basis. While it sounds trite, there’s a sound point in there.  

When it comes to digital projects, those with clear requirements and a sure sense of the ‘why’ behind the activity see the most success.

What these projects have in common are: 

  • Thorough pre-project stakeholder engagement. 
  • Well-conceived requirements, expressed as user stories. 
  • Defined acceptance criteria for all user stories.  
  • A clear understanding of key dependencies, and at what point in the project these will be required.  

( For more on this topic, see our blog post on how to write a good user story.

3. Great project sponsors = great projects

Passion is infectious. At Shout, we love nothing better than to hear a client talk excitedly about their next project and the potential for the positive results it can bring when delivered well.  

Creating a shared vision of success in this way serves to energise and motivate the teams on both sides to deliver quality work with pace, and to maintain this throughout the project lifecycle.  

Post-delivery, the notable difference in these scenarios is that there’s a real eagerness to hear how the product/changes are performing, and to follow-up with refinements. (Rather than a rush to box off the project and move on to the next thing.)

When there’s true engagement on both sides, follow-up and post-project engagement can form strong foundations for a positive ongoing client/agency relationship.  

4. Communication is key

Situations change, and the unexpected can be just around the corner; in these moments, good communication is your best tool for minimising negative impact. 

Effective two-way client/agency communication can help reduce delays to progress, focus both teams on the immediate priorities, and build trust and understanding when things don’t go as planned.

Client-facing folk are often digital practitioners in their own right, making them well-placed to adapt to your needs.

They may even suggest a way around a problem that you hadn’t even considered was in their wheelhouse – those people’s backgrounds are often very diverse! 

Good communication is also just as important in times of ‘business as usual’. Even if there is no current project in hand, try to keep your agency updated on changes that may be happening within your organisation.

That background means they can be a proactive partner, looking ahead and ready when the time comes for that new project.  

5. Be curious

It’s your agency’s job to keep up-to-date on the latest developments and innovations in tech – make sure you use that expertise.

Talk to them about what you’re looking to achieve and be open to alternative solutions to the one you think you need.  

Not sure you need a machine learning model or to integrate AI? Talk to your representatives about what’s possible, you never know what it might lead to…

In Summary 

There’s a lot to be gained from fostering a close relationship with your digital agency.

These relationships can be built through sharing business insight, having clearly defined goals, demonstrating enthusiasm and passion for your project, communicating in the good times and the bad, and being curious and open to new ideas.  

Your agency is there to help you deliver your projects, and to ensure outcomes are the best they can possibly be.

Like any relationship, you get out what you put in. 

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