How to Be a Better Client (From People Who Work With a Lot of Them!)

A portrait of Andrew Cross

At Walker Sands, we believe in the importance of data-driven decision-making. 

Twice a year for the past five years, we’ve surveyed our entire client base to better answer the question, “How are we doing?” 

The results are always instructive. We receive feedback on what we’re doing well and where we can improve. We do our best to take action based on the results. The process has become ingrained into the way we operate as an agency.

But our client survey process prompted an interesting question: If we survey our clients about the programs we deliver as a team, why don’t we also survey our team members about our clients?

So we did, and the resulting dataset tells us a lot — about our clients and about us. It also highlights some trends in what makes a good client. 

And being a good client matters. The best clients motivate their agency partner to go above and beyond, and see success as a result. 

According to our survey data, there are several common ingredients in the best client-agency relationships. Here are four of those ingredients, with anecdotes from Walker Sands team members via the survey.

1) A good client trusts their agency team, and views them as experts.

“We have established a great amount of trust, and our work is well integrated into their business as a result.”

“They really trust our recommendations on web design. We have delivered great work for them because of the collaboration and rapport we have built, and I’m really proud of the work we’ve done for them.”

“The client challenges us, but respects our perspective.”

2) A good client is willing to both challenge the agency team and be challenged, always in pursuit of “better.”

“Their CMO and CEO are incredibly smart and push me to do better work. I feel like I learn from this client as much as I counsel them, and over the years, they have expressed how much they care about the development of our team too, which makes for a fantastic partnership.”

“Our client contacts are nice to work with, and the program is challenging in an exciting way. Because of the nature of the account, I feel motivated and inspired with new ideas, even when there are hiccups.”

3) A good client is, when appropriate, willing to take (the right) risks.

“The CEO is a true partner, willing to experiment and is actively involved in the program.”

“She is always willing to try new things and gets excited about pushing the boundaries, which makes my job fun.”

“Enthusiastic support and willingness to participate from executives has led to some early wins as a result. This client truly feels like they value our expertise and it’s kicking the program off on a strong note.”

4) A good client is candid and transparent, and approaches the engagement with a partnership mentality.

“They ask smart, curious questions while also respecting and trusting our expertise and process. They give a lot of constructive feedback, which shows they are invested in our work and want a collaborative partnership.”

“The client is a genuine partner to our team and is a genuinely nice person who is interested in the team’s mental well-being and in our lives. He’s forthcoming with materials and knowledge, always ensuring we also have everything they have internally. He respects each person on our team and our agency.”

One of the most overused phrases in the agency world is, “we operate as an extension of your team.” But if you’ve been a part of a true agency-client partnership, you know the difference between a partnership and a transactional vendor relationship. 

We are so proud of the incredible relationships we’ve built with so many clients, and we look forward to continuing to learn from them as they learn from us.


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