Your agency is living the dream—you’re busy and your clients are loving their experience working with you. Everything is going great until all of a sudden someone comes and tells you they’re not going to continue their contract.
As Bryan Plumb of Bee Digital LTD explains, “it’s like getting the rug pulled out from under you.” As an agency focused on the education sector, Bryan realized that he didn’t like to have his business working this way.
If you can have the rug pulled out from you at any moment, how can you have predictability in your agency?
That’s why Bee Digital Ltd created The Client Health Check. It’s the health check you need to run on every client monthly so you know how they’re feeling about their experience with your agency. Unlike health checks for your body, this one is quick and painless. As a bonus for putting their time into these health checks, Bryan and his team have even found it to help with their sales and marketing.
So what’s the Client Health Check all about?
How Health Checks Help Your Retention Rates
At Bee Digital LTD, they rely heavily on the Customer Value Journey. This is the 8-step journey someone goes on when they discover your business all the way to becoming a brand ambassador and promoter for it. Here’s what it looks like:
The reason Bee Digital Ltd relies so much on the Customer Value Journey is because it shows the relationship their clients have gone through with them. Having a business is all about building human relationships. When we look at how intimate relationships fail (aside from cheating), you’ll find that it’s usually because of one of these reasons:
- Communication issues
- Being on different pages
- 1-way traffic
If customer relationships are human relationships (just like intimate relationships), we can figure out that the reason client relationships fail is:
- Communication issues
- Lack of progress
- Return on investment
As Bryan and Bee Digital LTD figured out, these are the 3 points of potential failure to look out for in your agency. These 3 points are what can increase or decrease your retention rates by getting a better understanding of the client relationships, predict how the relationship may change in the future, and adapt based on data.
Which leads us to The Client Health Check.
The Client Health Check
Bryan explains, “The Client Health Check is a system that takes only a few seconds to implement but gives complete clarity on all client relationships, extending your retention rates.”
Here’s a look at the Client Health Check:
Bryan wasn’t kidding when he said it only takes a few seconds to fill out. With this health check, he’s not trying to give your team more homework. He’s figured out a quick way to keep tabs on how your clients and team are feeling about their relationship, so you can stop increasing retention rates before it happens.
In its simplest form, The Client Health Check is just a scoring chart. The scores are:
- 1-2 unhappy/disappointed (red)
- 3-4 satisfied/pretty good (amber)
- 5-6 happy/joyful (green)
There are 4 categories that will get scored per client: Communication, Progress, Outcomes, and Gut Check.
To score communication, ask yourself:
- Are you happy with the level of communication?
- Are you or the client being over/under communicative?
- Is there a better way to talk?
- Is communication happening when it needs to?
- Is communication easy or challenging?
Remember, when you’re scoring communication you’re not scoring your client. You’re not scoring them 1-2 because they’re doing a bad job of answering your Slack messages. You’re scoring the relationship as a whole.
To score progress, you’ll look at:
- Are things going as expected?
- Is progress realistic and happening at a reasonable pace
- Is the direction right
- Are deadlines being hit (by you and the client)?
- Are you being reactive or proactive?
To score outcomes can be a bit tricky…
Bryan knows that “outcomes change over time. Outcomes at the start of a project might be delivery/quality assets, planning discussions, meeting deadlines, materials produced, etc. Later on, it might be more data-oriented – number of leads captured, quality of targeting, growth metrics, demos booked, social stats, awards won, searching ranking improved, website traffic, etc.”
This is when he’ll remind you that this isn’t a scientific health check (like the one you hope to get from the doctor). This is more of just a gut feeling on how your relationship with your clients is progressing.
Based on the outcome that should be happening at this stage of your relationship, what would you score it?
To score the gut check, here’s what Bryan means:
“Some things can’t be analyzed. This final criteria is more of an instinct-based score. Just go with the flow and pick a score that speaks from your heart, not your head.”
This is the score that doesn’t look at the data—it’s based on the gut feeling that tells you how things are going. Just like you check that gut intuition when you think about spending the rest of your life with somebody, you’re going to tap into that same intuition to see how you feel about the client relationship as it stands right now.
Out of these 4 categories in The Client Health Check, chances are the most important one is outcomes. Consider this the North Star of your client relationships. Your business may be different, so we can’t *promise* you that. But, chances are your clients want the ROI they were hoping for—and that comes down to some sweet outcomes.
This is your internal Client Health Check. You’ll also be sending a health check to your clients. The only difference between the two will be the Gut Check. Your internal Client Health Check will have the Gut Check and the one you send to your clients will not have it.
Here’s Bryan’s process for explaining the Client Health Check to his clients:
- Make sure to delete the Gut Check column from the health check
- Arrange a Team Meeting with your client and walk them through the process explaining:
- You don’t expect to have green scorecards always
- It’s okay to have red scores
- Red doesn’t mean they’re doing poorly or the agency is doing poorly, it just highlights something that can be improved
- Send a 1-page document to the client outlining what the Client Health Check is and why it’s so important
- Arrange a reminder email to be sent to the client each month to send you their 3 scores
- “Enjoy greater clarity and success!” says Bryan 😊
Ready to start using the Client Health Check? Let’s go over exactly how to implement it.
How to Start Using the Client Health Check
It’s time to put The Client Health Check to work. Since it only takes a few seconds to fill out, your team and your clients don’t have an excuse as to why this shouldn’t be implemented. As Bryan points out, “Your clients want to feel like they’re heard. The Client Health Check makes them feel like you care. We tell all of our prospective clients about the health check before they sign their contract so they know what to expect when they work with us. They love to see that we care this much about their experience and find people decide to work with us.”
How to use The Client Health Check:
- Once per month, each Account Manager will update their spreadsheet (you’ll have an individual spreadsheet per Account Manager)
- Once per month, the Account Director will request the client updates from their adapted Client Health Check (without the Gut Check)
To make sure this runs smoothly, here’s Bryan’s advice:
- The clients don’t ever see the agency’s Client Health Check on their business
- Agency staff can only see their own and their client ratings and the health checks aren’t shared amongst the team without permission
- Client ratings are available to the Leadership Team
- Happiness across the board month-in-month-out is never expected
- Red ratings can be unsettling but they are often easily addressed and provide an opportunity to fix the issue before it becomes unsalvageable
- Red ratings can be due to client failures too
Your Client Health Checks will most likely follow a pattern. From running these health checks in his agency, Bryan’s been able to pull out these patterns so you know what to expect.
Most of the time you’ll have client and agency results that match (which means you’re both on the same page!) and hopefully your scores are all green/amber.
Some of the time your agency will be highlighting problems that your client doesn’t even see yet (which is exactly why this health check is so important for retention).
Other times your client will reference problems and apologize for them because they know the problems are their fault. For example, let’s say communication gets a red score because the client isn’t responding to your Slack messages and they point out that they know this is their fault. You can bring the solution of having weekly meetings instead, to see if that works better as communication for the client.
And, occasionally the client references problems that the agency needs to own. Acknowledge the problem and show them what you’re doing to change the situation.
TIP: When you get three months of green scores in a row—ask that client for a Case Study!
The Client Health Check is your way out of those “What happened?!” moments that come after reading the email from a client that’s not interested in working together anymore. It’s the crystal ball that can predict the future and help your agency keep low retention rates.
Thanks to Bryan Plumb at Bee Digital Ltd, you’ll be able to use this health check to make sure your client relationships are going as well as you think. Bryan’s great reminder that marketing and business is all about human relationships is something to continue to come back to each time you hit a roadblock in your business.
How can you make this a better experience for your clients by predicting problems before they happen?
A simple 5-column spreadsheet.