How to Use Client Service Reports to Improve Retention
November 19, 2014
PPC Hero series week continues as we review how various reports can help you achieve your account goals. Earlier in the week, Carrie and Jacob provided details on how to use location extension and destination URL reports. Today, Kayla is going to use a less traditional “report” and take more of a client relations approach.
Just as a 100% conversion rate would be somewhat alarming to an Account Manager (“wait…is the conversion code on the landing page or the thank you page?”), the average agency should not have a 100% client retention rate. Not every agency has the same solution set, so it’s possible you’ve helped grow an account beyond what your team is capable of managing. Perhaps performance in the account is hitting goals with your team, but the client’s internal processes require new management every X number of years.
What you don’t want is avoidable churn from your client roster. How do you know what’s healthy loss versus unnecessary turnover? Certainly this process will not be an exact science, and there are clients who make requests that can’t be fulfilled and therefore they don’t fit this bill. That said, you can learn a lot about what would keep or make a client happy(er) if you give them the proper medium to discuss such things.
Speak Beyond The Metrics
First and foremost, this must be a consistent effort. Any client will be difficult to crack if you wait to have any kind of “what could we do better” conversation only when performance is poor or you’re having trouble hitting goals. For this reason, our team regulates monthly Client Service Manager-only calls with our clients. This communication point asks a lot less about specific metrics (i.e. we’re not necessarily asking about CPA happiness, here) and much more about overall feelings about how the account is being managed.
You read correctly – I’m talking about business AND feelings in the same piece of content. In fact, I would say it’s potentially more important to hold these kinds of calls when performance is poor because that is when you’ll start to realize business and feelings all happen in the same breath. Your average order value could be 200% higher year over year, but if the client perceives that you’re slow to respond to emails…that performance improvement won’t carry you forever.
I recommend, as insinuated previously, that these client service-specific calls be mandated and that they have a similar structure with the entire client roster. Asking each client the same basic set of questions allows for recurring themes to be picked up more quickly, and then the particular facets of those responses or solutions can be more directly tailored per each client’s needs. It’s almost entirely true that no two paid search accounts or clients are the same, but it’s also very accurate that most client issues fall in to one of a few buckets: communication, performance and general team cohesion.
Dig Below The Surface
As with most relationships, client conversations are like icebergs. You all know the metaphor – you only see about 1/3 of what’s really below the surface at any given time. So even if you feel as though communication with your client(s) is sufficient, don’t fall prone to slippery-slope behavior of forgetting to unpack curious statements or notions from them. In fact, sometimes the more communicative clients are the ones who need more true conversation around their requests. I’ll provide an example so this point makes sense:
Let’s say your team speaks to Client A every week to review performance metrics and general account work, in addition to a once a month call with their Client Services Manager to discuss non-metric topics. Let’s also say that in this example, the client has requested a shift in CPA target once a month for the last three months. Your team has similarly adjusted strategy each month with that moving goal to do their best to achieve it. The monthly CSM call happens and when the question is posed about what the team could anticipate expecting or what big client-side initiatives could be rolling out that you would benefit from a heads up on…the client divulges that the CPA goal will be moving again in the next month.
That client isn’t necessarily providing the entire story of the full iceberg, because it’s highly likely there is something greater going on. Perhaps CPA goal does need to be adjusted, but what can you do as the expert agency to help that client find the RIGHT goal, not just A goal?
Client management is a zero sense-making zone, which means it is not the time to make assumptions about why or when a client is bringing up a concern. Your job as their PPC agency is to bring up the difficult questions and dig deeper to be certain your team is truly adjusting in the proper fashion.
The most important piece of effective client services management is to gain full clarity and confirmation that the true concern or problem is being addressed. This can and will get awkward from time to time, but it’s absolutely crucial to long-term client retention.
What client communication and retention tips does your team employ? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section – let’s discuss!
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