When it comes to SEO there are several jobs that are obvious, getting those great positions, getting traffic through to the site, getting that traffic to convert, reporting back but one thing that takes a lot of time that is very rarely scheduled in is keeping the customer happy.
When you’ve got top positions for all their key terms and they’re making money hand over fist you’re their best friend but one week of dropped positions or the second they see a slight drop in sales and they’re stabbing pins into their little SEO person voodoo doll. Rationalisation very rarely comes into it, it might be sheer good luck their positions increased or it might be a competitor dropping their prices that’s resulted in their revenue taking a hit, it doesn’t matter, all that matters is they’re happy again and all is well.
Regardless of how big this customer is you need to make sure they feel like the most valued customer you’ve got. They may be just paying for a few hours of your time a month and you may have customers paying for several days but you don’t treat them any different. Give them a call to say hi, if it helps, just keep a few notes so you can ask how their kids’ sports day went/mothers birthday was/if they had a good holiday. Remembering those little details makes them feel like they’re valued and cared for. Don’t forget those reports; ideally you need to be reporting back to them every month exactly what you’re doing and how their campaign is progressing.
Keeping in touch means if they’re not happy you can defuse it as quickly as possible and they don’t have time to get really angry.
If something has gone wrong with the campaign you need to have a very good reason as to why it went wrong, what you’re going to do to fix it and most importantly why it wasn’t your fault and why they shouldn’t be firing you on the spot. Have you recommended they make changes to their site they didn’t bother with? Did they have a shed load of paid links pointing at their site from a previous contract that you’ve warned them could be damaging? Are they refusing to update their blog on a regular basis?
The worst thing you can do is shirk all responsibility and having ‘it’s not my fault’ as your default answer is going to get them even madder but having a reasonable explanation could mean the difference between losing and retaining the account.
Hold Your Hands Up When You’re Wrong
It might simply be a case that you screwed up and it’s time to grow a pair and admit it. Maybe you took a chance on a bad link or some hidden text slipped past you and you got sandboxed, if you know you’ve made a mistake and there’s no cleaver explanation then you’ll get more respect if you simply apologise rather than blaming everyone else other than yourself.
If you are blaming an unexpected algorithm update or something that was genuinely out your control your argument will have more authority if it’s backed up by a reputable blog post from someone in the industry followed by a very detailed plan of action on how you’re going to dig their site out this mess.
Go Above And Beyond
This one is more about prevention than cure but always make sure you’re being proactive rather than reactive when it comes to their campaign. When you are going that extra mile make sure it’s always documented in their reports or find a way to let them know without phoning them every five minutes like an excited child expecting a pat on the head.
This way they’re less likely to get annoyed with you quite so easily or at the very least they’ll feel bad and getting too angry with you.
Keep It Simple
You can send all the reports you like and phone them every day but if you’re being too technical or they just don’t understand what you’re telling them it will all be for nothing. At the same time if you start patronising them they’re not going to think twice to have a go at you at the first excuse they get.
Establish what their understanding of the internet is as soon as you start working with them and make sure you’re talking to them in a language they’re going to understand. This is also going to prevent any breakdown in communications leading to them getting upset with you and if they’re already angry at you it’s going to help you calm them down a lot quicker if they can actually understand what you’re telling them.
Remember How You Won Them Over To Start With
Something all SEO’s should remember is how they won that account in the first place and if your client left another SEO for you, what made them leave? If you poached that client from a competitor you need to always be aware of what it was that convinced them to leave because that could be the same reason they chose to leave you.
Putting your prices up when you haven’t necessarily earned it when they left their last SEO because you offered a better price might be enough to start them shopping around.
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