Your client is embarking on a 12-month rebranding project. Or they’re looking to kick start their Tik Tok presence. Or perhaps they’re hoping to get your executives a few bylines in Forbes.
If you’re part of a creative agency—whether it’s marketing and advertising, a PR firm, or a social media team—your clients are trusting you for strategic guidance. And no matter the project, you’re also probably communicating with them through one main channel: email.
Email is what your team uses most when communicating internally with colleagues and externally with clients. It’s also what your teams are in, all day, every day.
But statistics suggest that cultivating stand-out experiences through email isn’t always easy:
80 percent of companies acknowledge that communicating with other employees or teams is very or extremely important when replying to client inquiries. But just 38 percent list their internal communication performances as very or extremely good.
Roughly a quarter (24 percent) say they perform slightly or extremely poorly at this.
So, what is the answer? Better email management. Here are five email improvements to help creative agencies deliver better client services.
1. Take control of email to let creative genius shine
Teams are swamped by too much email. A study of over 2000 workers revealed that 68 percent believe the volume of emails received and sent has risen over the last three years. And, 50 percent said that since shifting to remote work, the number of emails they receive weekly has increased by more than 20.
Managing the volume wouldn’t be as hard if teams used the right tools. But many use distribution lists or group aliases, which makes it difficult to assign ownership to these emails.
The result? Many emails aren’t answered for hours or not at all—not exactly the way to retain clients. In fact, many clients may simply choose to switch to other companies.
To fix this? Using a shared inbox is one solution. You can reduce your email volume, ensure no emails slip through the cracks, and help you respond to emails promptly. Your team will also be more organized, feel less stressed, and have more time to deliver better work for clients.
2. Increase email visibility for your team to improve collaboration
Coordinating impactful projects takes a team—like a creative director or team lead, a project manager, a designer, content editor, digital strategist, and more. Everyone has a critical role to play and needs information from the previous conversations with the client to know how to move forward.
To keep everyone on the same page, you need access to an entire history of communication with each client. This access isn’t possible if you’re using email distribution lists because you can’t see who’s responded to a given email (unless they hit reply-all).
The result is multiple replies, slow or no replies, and an inability to track down information on a team or company-wide level. Shared inboxes can help here, too, by providing more visibility into who has responded.
3. Automate email triage and organization to save time
The average worker spends more than 11 hours or 28 percent of their workweek on email. This figure is probably much higher for marketers and creatives as you’re constantly sorting through long email threads with a million people cc’d in.
There’s also plenty of approvals and drafts to send, edits to consider, and just generally lots to sift through. All this wasted time on email is time you could spend improving the quality of your interactions with clients.
4. Centralize communication so you can stay focused and prevent context switching
Your team may depend heavily on email to communicate with clients and get work done, but it’s not the only tool. You’ve likely got project management software, marketing automation systems, and other instant messaging tools you and your team use when working and reference during client conversations.
But, many tools do not connect well with email because they’re often specialized, requiring custom APIs. This leads to context switching, with your team clicking around and moving between apps and having millions of tabs open.
Context switching leads to wasted time, incomplete tasks, and the potential for sloppy project briefs or execution errors. For example, your team could run a paid promotion for too long or have the incorrect content budget assigned.
These mistakes can cause clients to lose trust in you. They may even decide to move to a competitor if the error is big enough or occurs often.
5. Assign clear ownership to emails to eliminate confusion
Who’s supposed to incorporate the edits for the final draft? Who’s in charge of replying to the client who wants a sneak peek at the creative?
If you’re using a distribution list or group alias, there’s no way to know who’s responsible for replying to a client email unless you talk about it or email each other separately behind the scenes.
With no clear responsibility for emails, the following two problems occur:
The client receives more than one reply—maybe with conflicting information. You look disorganized.
Your client receives no reply because everyone on your team assumes someone else replied. This is poor client service. Plus, you look like you don’t value your client’s business.
Your client will lose trust in you, which can hurt the relationship—and you may even lose them altogether.
You can avoid this confusion, multiple replies or no replies, and poor service by using a shared inbox to assign ownership to emails from the start. Your team will feel confident in what they need to do and what they’re responsible for—and your client will benefit through better service.
Get your email sorted to improve client experiences
Many creative agencies struggle to improve client experiences despite knowing how important it is.
But there is a solution: better email management. By taking control of email volumes, increasing email visibility, automating email triage, connecting email with other tools, and assigning clear ownership to emails, you’ll save time, boost team performance, build client trust, and improve client experiences.
Front is a hub for customer communication that allows companies to offer tailor-made service at scale. Since Front looks and feels like email, it’s easy for the team to collaborate on personalized communications and deliver the best responses faster.
Learn how creative and marketing agencies are improving client experiences through email in this study with IDC.
Written by Nick Darlington
Originally Published: 17 December 2021