How to navigate your client-agency relationship

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The core concepts of our feedback system

Unlikely other solutions we emphasize a 2-way rating, to on the one side to give also the service provider the power at their hands to give feedback to their clients, and on the other side to create a realistic representation of the relationship – which is of course a 2-sided thing.

The second concept we bring new on the table is the self-reflection for each entity. Self-reflection is a core concept from psychology used widely in business areas (mainly HR and leadership) as well. We added up this feature to the feedback concept because it gives you on an organizational level (and further down to an even individual level) the possibility to benchmark your perception against the one from your client/agency. Perceptions are always subjective (this is called constructivism) but also can be flawed, so a check-up with a different perspective is always of value. In the context of our tool this means that we can detect so big misunderstandings and misconception in core processes of the collaboration.

With the quarter based process we defined a frequency that is also very well reflecting business reality. It also should give you enough data in a suitable time-frame to enable you to navigate through issues in your relationships and to monitor impact of your actions.

How to interpret the report data points

When we speak about data point we mostly mean a satisfaction rating from 1-10, either from one of the 2 sides and the self reflection. So we have 3 data point in total, which help us to navigate our relationships. Here explained in more detail and also how the gaps we use in our analysis are calculated:

Advise: Check also the satisfaction rating on a contact level, as an average number can sometimes misleading (a 1 and a 10 equals still a good average, but the 1 should be investigated further).

Relationship gap: if we see here a significant gap >3, this means 1 party is explizit more/less happy with the relationship. The gap should circle in normal circumstances around 0 – 3.

Perception gap: Please be aware that only your own perception is visible to you and not to the other party. We do this to protect this critical data from sharing and think it is best suited to use to work on your own behaviors. The gap represents the delta on how you think you performed with the client/agency vs. the actual received satisfaction rating. When we see as well a gap >3, we advise to take action and investigate further. The gap means that you think you did a good/worse job, but the reality is much different. In a healthy relationship the party has a realistic self perception of its own capabilities and the quality of service.

Proposal for a feedback round table format

In order to make the rating result actionable, it is advised to reflect on it as an organization and possibly also with your agency/client. Prior to that the written in detail feedback should be read carefully, as a lot of reasoning is already communicated there. Of course you only need to carry out a such in deep format if you encounter negative feedback and a rating <7.

It is always a little uncomfortable feeling to speak with others about own wrongdoing so try to establish an open, warm and welcoming atmosphere and focus in you discussion on the future outcome to overcome the current issues. Also see the feedback you just received as a gift but also keep in mind it is always a subjective impression from a different angle than yours. Phrase a future wishful state and think backwards from it to come to concrete action steps to achieve the state in the future. The goals should be achievable with you given resources and not unrealistic.

Internal with own team:

  • Setting: circle or round table with max. 10 – 15 people, 1 person takes moderator role
  • Every person must come prepared and has reflected on their own on the received feedback + has some possible future states in mind and how to achieve them
  • Short comment on received feedback from every person (max. 30 sec)
  • Collection of future state and action items (moderator facilitates this either with post-its or other method)
  • Consolidation of action items with a appropriate voting method (5 star per person voting)
  • Summary of future state and action items as main outcomes of the meeting
  • Duration of entire meeting ~60 minutes

The result of the internal meeting should be a set of action items and a matching future state definition. If anyhow you can’t get to a conclusion or you experience in detail discussions during the meeting, break the discussion at a certain point and form a additional circle that should come up with a solution for the next meeting. The Summary etc. is then no possible and a new meeting should be arrange in a couple of days.

Client – Agency alignment

After getting to a summary internally the 2 parties meet for an additional meeting to bring the 2 perspectives together. This is the main goal for this meeting.

  • Setting: team members of both parties in a circle or round table. max. 10 – 15 people, 1 person takes moderator role
  • Intro with short comment from every person on the received feedback and the concluded future state with action items (max. 30 sec)
  • One representative of each party enounced their future state and action items (moderator collects them on a board etc. and already groups them)
  • There will be a huge match of proposals so start with those items and agree on the matching actions
  • Agreement needs to be a consent, no voting here
  • Items can also be deleted if both parties agree, that they are not relevant anymore or represent in other one already
  • You should end up with 10 action items for each party and a joint future state
  • Duration: 1 – 2h

This meeting can take a little longer an should be given time as we want to achieve a consent among the 2 parties.

Sometimes goals or demands from the parties are completely contradictional, eg. “we want better quality, more senior staff but want to pay less”. These kind of demands can not be really solved in a realistic and beneficial environment, so also feedback this in an open way to the other party. If that keeps with their claim, you anyway have a sort of toxic relationship and you should consider to split up.