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The 4 Pillars of Client Delight: How to Improve Client Success as an Agency

Jakub
Jakub "Kuba" Grajcar is the Content Marketing Manager at ZenPilot. His obsessions include interviewing smart people; productivity methods; project management; and playing bass in a progressive metal band.

Imagine this: you've just landed a dream client. The contract is signed, the champagne is flowing, and your team is excited to dive in.

Fast forward a few months, and the honeymoon phase is over.

Miscommunication, unmet expectations, and a lack of personal connection have soured the relationship.

The client is dissatisfied, and you're at risk of losing them altogether.

Sound familiar?

If so, you're not alone. Many agencies struggle to build and maintain thriving client partnerships.

But what if there was a proven framework for not just satisfying, but delighting your clients at every stage of the engagement?

Enter the 4 Pillars of Client Delight.

I recently had the privilege of interviewing agency expert and ZenPilot founder Gray MacKenzie. Gray's got a decade of experience in the agency space with over 3,000 clients served.

I presented him with some AI-generated, surface-level pieces of advice for improving client success at an agency...

...and Gray generously responded his hard-won wisdom on what it really takes to create unshakeable client relationships.

Going much deeper than AI ever could.

Inspired by his insights, I've distilled his advice into four essential pillars:

  1. Insight
  2. Interaction
  3. Improvement
  4. Individualization

By focusing on these four areas, you can level up your client partnerships from transactional to truly transformational.

In this post, I'll dive deep into each pillar, sharing Gray's expert tips on how to implement this powerful framework at your agency.

We'll cover:

  • The "5 Whys" technique for uncovering your client's true goals (Insight)
  • How to structure your communication cadence for maximum impact (Interaction)
  • Why embracing problems is the key to building trust (Improvement)
  • How to "wow" your clients with personalized touches (Individualization)
  • A step-by-step action plan for bringing the framework to life at your agency
  • A checklist you can follow to assess your client service in each of the 4 areas

Whether you're a seasoned agency veteran or just starting out, the 4 Pillars of Client Delight will give you a roadmap to building long-term, lucrative client relationships.

Let's dive in.

For a video version of Gray's insights straight from the man himself, check out the latest episode of the Agency Journey podcast. Watch the full video below:


Or go here to listen to the episode on your favorite podcast platforms.
 

Now, let's explore the framework that emerges from Gray's advice in the episode.

Pillar 1: Insight - Understanding Your Client's True Goals

The first pillar, Insight, is all about gaining a deep, comprehensive understanding of your client's true objectives. It's the bedrock upon which all other pillars rest.

But as Gray points out, what a client initially states as their objective often doesn't tell the whole story:

"Identifying the issue: someone's written down what the issue is going into the meeting, it's already on paper... And it turns out an awful lot of the time that when you go through that identify process, what we're actually trying to solve and what got written down are not the same. You would not write that the same way a second time."

To uncover your client's real needs, Gray recommends the "5 Whys" technique:

  1. Ask your client what their goal is
  2. Ask "Why is that important?"
  3. Ask "Why does that matter to you?"
  4. Keep digging with "Why?" questions to get to the root need

For example, a client may say they want to increase website traffic. But by asking why, you might discover their true goal is to generate more leads and revenue. Armed with this insight, you can craft a strategy that directly addresses their core objectives.

Pillar 2: Interaction - Maintaining Regular, Structured Communication

Consistent, meaningful communication is key to keeping clients engaged and informed. But as Gray emphasizes, the quality of your interactions is just as important as the quantity:

"The key is to set those expectations so that everyone's on the same page around how we'll communicate."

It's not just about frequency, but also about the substance of your interactions.

Gray suggests structuring your communications around four key areas:

  1. What actions have been taken
  2. What results have been achieved
  3. What lessons have been learned
  4. What next steps are planned

By consistently communicating in this structured way, you build trust and keep clients engaged in the process. They feel informed and confident in your ability to drive results.

But don't just stick to email updates. Regularly hop on calls to discuss progress, brainstorm ideas, and gather feedback. The more touchpoints you have, the stronger your relationship becomes.

Pillar 3: Improvement - Embracing Problems as Opportunities

The third pillar, Improvement, requires a shift in mindset.

No agency-client relationship is without its challenges.

But as Gray wisely notes, problems can actually be golden opportunities to build trust:

"When things go wrong, that's the opportunity to build trust. When everything's going right, of course you keep doing what you're doing.

Everyone knows something's going to go wrong at some point.

And so what we're all looking for is the pattern of what happens when things do go wrong."

When issues arise, Gray recommends a proactive, transparent approach:

  1. Bring the issue to your client's attention immediately
  2. Own your role in the situation
  3. Present a clear plan to resolve the issue and prevent future occurrences

By handling problems with transparency, accountability, and a solution-oriented approach, you showcase your integrity and commitment to the client's success.

You can transform a potential disaster into an opportunity to build even greater trust, and leave the partnership in a better place than before the problem arose.

Pillar 4: Individualization - Personalizing the Client Experience

The final pillar, Individualization, recognizes that each client is unique.

No two clients are alike, and your approach to each should reflect that.

To individualize the client experience:

  1. Learn your client's communication preferences and adapt accordingly
  2. Frame your solutions in the context of their specific goals and challenges
  3. Add personal touches that show you value the relationship

But Individualization goes beyond communication. It's about infusing personal touches throughout the engagement.

Remember your client's birthday, send a thoughtful gift when they achieve a major milestone, or share an article relevant to their interests.

These small gestures show you value the relationship beyond the contract.

Related: How to Grow an Agency by Becoming Optional, Leadership Training, and Building Personal Warmth (feat. Karl Sakas)

Your Agency CEO Action Plan

Now that you understand the 4 Pillars of Client Delight, here's how to put this framework into action as an agency leader:

  1. Train your team on the "5 Whys" technique to uncover true client goals
  2. Establish a communication cadence that covers actions, results, lessons, and next steps
  3. Create a problem resolution playbook that outlines your proactive approach to challenges
  4. Develop "client delight dossiers" detailing each client's preferences and needs
  5. Regularly review client accounts to ensure each pillar is being implemented effectively
  6. Recognize team members who go above and beyond in personalizing the client experience
  7. Continuously gather client feedback and adjust your approach based on their input

By operationalizing the 4 Pillars of Client Delight, you'll make your agency's client relationships much stronger than before. You'll be on the path to building unshakeable trust, earning rave reviews, and generating a steady stream of referrals.

By living the 4 Pillars, you're showing your clients that you're truly invested in their success. And that's the key to an unbreakable partnership.

Self-Assessment: The 4 Pillars of Client Delight Checklist 

Would you like to quickly assess how you're doing in each of the 4 Pillars?

Here's a checklist that will help you take the temperature of your client success activities.

To use this checklist, simply score your agency's current performance on each item using a scale of 1-5 (1 = Needs Improvement, 5 = Excellent). Then, based on your scores, identify priority areas for improvement and develop an action plan using the provided guidance.

Pillar 1: Insight

Assessing your understanding of the client's goals:

  1. We consistently use the "5 Whys" technique to uncover the client's true objectives. Score: ____
  2. We have a clear, documented understanding of the client's goals. Score: ____
  3. All team members working on the account are aligned on the client's objectives. Score: ____

Action steps for improvement:

  • Schedule a "Goal Alignment" meeting with the client to review and clarify objectives.
  • Train your team on effective goal discovery techniques like the "5 Whys."
  • Create a centralized repository (e.g., Google Doc, Notion page) for documenting client goals.

Pillar 2: Interaction

Evaluating your communication cadence:

  1. We have a standardized communication schedule for each client. Score: ____
  2. Our client updates consistently cover actions, results, lessons, and next steps. Score: ____
  3. We regularly solicit client feedback on the effectiveness of our communication. Score: ____

Action steps for improvement:

  • Establish a consistent communication rhythm (e.g., weekly updates, monthly calls).
  • Create email update templates that cover the key areas outlined above.
  • Implement a quarterly client satisfaction survey to gather feedback on communication.

Pillar 3: Improvement

Assessing your problem resolution process:

  1. We have a documented approach for addressing client issues when they arise. Score: ____
  2. We proactively bring problems to the client's attention, rather than waiting for them to come to us. Score: ____
  3. We view challenges as opportunities to build trust and strengthen the relationship. Score: ____

Action steps for improvement:

  • Develop a problem resolution playbook outlining your agency's approach to handling issues.
  • Train your team on transparent, solution-oriented communication for problem-solving.
  • Celebrate successful problem resolution with the client to reinforce your commitment to their success.

Pillar 4: Individualization

Evaluating your client personalization efforts:

  1. We have a clear understanding of each client's unique preferences and needs. Score: ____
  2. We tailor our communication style and solutions to each client's specific goals and challenges. Score: ____
  3. We regularly incorporate personal touches (e.g., birthday cards, thoughtful gifts) into the relationship. Score: ____

Action steps for improvement:

  • Create "client delight dossiers" for each account, detailing their preferences, needs, and interests.
  • Implement a "personalization budget" for each client to invest in meaningful gestures.
  • Recognize and reward team members who excel at individualizing the client experience.

Scoring & Next Steps

Now that you've completed the checklist, add up your scores for each pillar:

Pillar 1: Insight - Total Score: ____
Pillar 2: Interaction - Total Score: ____
Pillar 3: Improvement - Total Score: ____
Pillar 4: Individualization - Total Score: ____

Overall Score: ____/60

If your overall score is:

  • 50-60: Congratulations! Your agency is excelling at client delight. Keep up the great work and continue to look for ways to refine your approach.
  • 40-49: Your agency has a solid foundation in client success, but there's room for improvement. Focus on the pillars with the lowest scores and implement the recommended action steps.
  • 30-39: Your client relationships may be at risk. Prioritize the areas where you scored the lowest and take immediate action to address gaps in your approach.
  • Below 30: Your agency is struggling to meet client needs. A significant overhaul of your client success strategy is needed. Consider conducting a thorough review of your processes and seeking outside guidance.

Based on your scores, identify 2-3 high-priority action items and assign ownership and deadlines for each.

You can use our ClickUp for Agencies guide to track all of those action items in one system.

Schedule a follow-up meeting with your team to review progress and re-assess using the checklist in 3 months.

Additional Resources

To further support your client success efforts, check out these additional resources:

Use the 4 Pillars of Client Delight Checklist and take targeted action to improve, and you'll be well on your way to building unbreakable client relationships.

Get more agency growth strategies

Building unbreakable client relationships is crucial for the long-term success and growth of your agency.

By implementing the 4 Pillars of Client Delight framework, inspired by the wisdom of agency expert Gray MacKenzie, you can transform your client partnerships from transactional to truly transformational.

To dive deeper into the strategies and insights shared by Gray, be sure to check out the full Agency Journey podcast episode: Gray vs. AI: Client Success Strategies Based on Hard-Won Experience

 

For more agency growth tips and insights, follow Agency Journey on your favorite podcast platforms:

๐Ÿ‘‰ Apple Podcasts

๐Ÿ‘‰ Spotify

๐Ÿ‘‰ Google Podcasts

You can also follow us on YouTube.

See you in the next episode!

 

P.S. Agency Journey is brought to you by ZenPilot. We've helped 2,700+ agencies streamline their operations with the power of ClickUp. Get our free 56-page ClickUp Guide here. Or book a call with us to get an informed diagnosis of your agency ops issues.

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