Clients hire your organization to fill a need they are unable to fill themselves, due to constraints of time, skill, or resources. When it happens, it can be tempting to hit the ground running without taking the time to fully understand who you’re working with and why they need your services – but this is an essential part of the process.
When onboarding a new client, you will ask a lot questions about their needs and do a ton of research to uncover how you can help them achieve their goals. The information gained in this first step informs the strategy that you will recommend and implement on their behalf. Establishing a process for execution is your next logical step. And then, well, you go DO.
But something is still missing.
There’s one critical step we’ve tried to insert into our process at Don’t Panic Management that can help make every process, meeting, email, and approval go more smoothly: client training.
The Importance of Training Your Clients
When it comes to client management, we work with a wide variety of people and industries on a daily basis. Our clients are all experts in their field, and they’ve come to us for our assistance with digital project management, blogging, social media management, and more. Sometimes they just need an extra set of hands on the job, but often, they come to us without any prior knowledge about these arenas and are seeking our advice and expertise.
This is where training becomes so crucial for success. When you begin working with a client without properly educating and training them on the platforms and tools that you’ll be using to promote their product or organization, a well-oiled machine can start to look like a rusty lawn mower locked in a shed.
But by training clients to understand the work you do for them, you become more than an external vendor — you become a trusted partner and valuable resource. Here’s how to educate your clients.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Client Education
Digital knowledge varies widely within organizations, so it’s important to start with the basic when training clients. Assume that you are teaching someone who has no knowledge of the platform or digital medium that you’re discussing. Over-communicate instead of under-explaining.
Teach to Their Strengths
Don’t be afraid to ask your clients how they like to learn and how they’d like to collaborate with you on this journey. This will help uncover items they may already be familiar with and will allow you to hone in on areas that they’d like to really focus on.
Go to the Source (a.k.a., Don’t Recreate the Wheel)
One of my favorite parts of working in the digital world is the vast amount of content already out there to assist with teaching both yourself and clients. When I’m starting a new project or trying out a new platform, I always do research first to teach myself whatever I can find about the topic I’m working on. The same principle applies to training your clients. Many online platforms and channels have great training content available for public use (check out these great guides from Mailchimp and Buffer). Let the experts speak for themselves!
Don’t Forget Process
While teaching clients the technical skills that will help your partnership, nothing is more important than setting strong processes that are mutually beneficial – and then working together to make sure both parties are educated and prepared to use what you’ve set up. There are many processes that you can choose to implement and train your clients on, but some of the most important that I’ve found relate to gathering feedback, gaining approval, and communication.
Project management software might work for you (such as Basecamp, Trello, Asana) or perhaps a simple Google Spreadsheet is all you need. Whatever works best, make sure everyone is on the same page before diving into your project.
Do you have any tips or tricks that you’ve used to train clients? Or, as a client, how do you best work with your agency partners to learn? We’d love to hear from you!
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A lover of to-do lists and itineraries who sees every tightly-packed schedule as an exciting game of calendar Tetris, Shannon loves all things organizing. If it can be color-coded, alphabetized, or formatted in a pleasing design, all the better. With a background running the gamut from office management to marketing to media management and talent representation, she's not afraid of deadlines or seemingly impossible tasks. A self-confessed workaholic, Shannon thrives on learning new technology, programs, and skills. When not making her clients' lives more efficient, you can normally find her enjoying time with her son, buried in a book, writing her own, trying to keep up with crazy pets, baking, or dreaming of moving her home office to an ocean view.
Work superpower: Proofreading. If there's a typo or formatting error to be found, I'll find it.
Favorite cheese: Smoked cheddar
Go-to karaoke song: I don't do karaoke, and the world thanks me
Beverage of choice: Fiji water or caffeine-free Diet Dr. Pepper
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