How to Foster a Healthy Client-Agency Partnership

When you’re investing in something as important as your organization’s website, it can be nerve-wracking to hand over the reins of control to a third party. You need to know that the agency you’re working with is not only talented but also trustworthy and a breeze to work alongside. At Southern Web, it is our job to foster healthy client-agency partnerships. Here are a few things we’ve learned over the years.

Strong partnerships are built on trust.

First and foremost, a healthy partnership between a client and an agency starts and ends with trust. Each party depends on the other to make the project a success; it’s not a one-way street. The client must trust the agency to hold the client’s best interests in mind. Meanwhile, the agency must trust that the client will play an active, committed role in the production of their website. This means providing the appropriate company assets promptly, keeping up with project check-in meetings, and ensuring that the necessary stakeholders are looped into the process and signing off on every major project milestone.

Having a project manager is critical.

There are many reasons why you should work with an agency that assigns you a dedicated project manager. Probably the most significant advantage of working with a project manager is that you will know the status of your project at all times. There are a lot of web design firms who will only meet with you at the beginning of the process to gather all your assets and then go radio silent for several months before launching your finished website without any chance for revisions. Being kept in the dark like this rarely ends well, which is why having a project manager to guide you step-by-step through the process will ensure you receive a finished product that reflects your company and its goals. Working with a project manager is also recommended because the client can collaborate with a single, centralized point of contact. After all, the entire process is about building a relationship, and if you’re being handed over to talk to different members of an agency, it can be a confusing, off-putting experience. This “single point of contact” rule also applies to the client’s team. Having the client designate a “spokesperson” for the project prevents the project manager from being bombarded with feedback from different people, which can become quite confusing — especially when the multiple lines of feedback conflict with each other!

Disagreements or tension? Don’t let it fester.

While there are some cases in which an agency and a client are simply not a great fit in the first place, the vast majority of disagreements and tension stems from a misunderstanding and a lack of trust. To preserve a healthy working partnership, address any issues or questions you might have as soon as they become apparent (preferably by phone, since the tone of emails can be challenging to decipher). Letting an issue fester may needlessly hinder the success of the project. The truth is, we’re all on the same side, working toward the same goal. A client wants a beautiful, professional website, and an agency wants to produce a website they can be brag about!  

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