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Why Transparency Between Clients and Agencies is so Important

Transparency is more than just a buzzword. It’s critical to building and maintaining a strong relationship with your digital agency. But in what respects, exactly? This blog post lays it all down for you.

Transparency has joined the league of elite buzzwords (up there with blockchain and disruption) that people like to throw around during board meetings, on company retreats and in press releases. Unfortunately, this lip service paid to it doesn’t often translate into real transparency in the day-to-day grind of business, especially among digital agencies. Many of them fail at customer communications. 

However, when the talk of transparency is not just superficial, it does not only make good ethical sense but great business sense, too. In fact, according to a recent study by Label Insight, up to 94 percent of consumers surveyed indicated that they were more likely to be loyal to a brand that offers transparency, while 73 percent said they were willing to pay more for a product that offers complete transparency.

What is transparency and why is it important?

Transparency is very appealing to us a raw, human sort of way because it is deeply rooted in our natural behavior as the social creatures we are. Social creatures like us thrive best when they can trust each other and transparency is the foundation of trust. We like people who are transparent, because they have always been more beneficial to trust and deal with ever since we were drawing cave paintings.

It therefore makes perfect sense that even today in the age of industrial capitalism, we like to deal with companies who are transparent, too. Transparency is something every agency should have for its clients. If you’re paying a digital agency of any kind (whether it’s offering you website design, UI/UX design for web apps, or product consulting services) you should know exactly what you’re getting for your money.

Transparency basically entails being able to communicate, ask questions, contribute ideas/suggestions and be kept up-to-date with everything your agency is doing including any hurdles they are coming across. It is about having an open collaboration, where the client is able to see progress via project management tools, have an open channel of communication and actively participate in feedback and ideation rounds rather than the agency working in silo in between having big project reveals.

You’re probably thinking the above goes without saying but many businesses actually don’t have much of a clue about what exactly the digital agency they have hired is doing for them, let alone how well they are doing it. Furthermore, many digital agencies prefer to keep clients completely oblivious like this.

Are you thinking of hiring a digital agency for your business? Here are some tips on how to keep things transparent with your agency of choice. Keep in mind that these are the very basic things every agency should be doing with their clients, so if they aren’t happening for you, you should make sure to ask why.

1. What’s the plan?

This is basically the strategy that outlines what activities the digital agency is going to undertake in offering the website design, UI/UX design for web apps, and product consulting services you need. This strategy should be aligned with your business goals, tracked, monitored and adapted as you go along. You shouldn’t feel too tied to the objectives you started out with, there should be room for evolution - the project should be a living organism that responds to the changes in its environment.

A strategy is crucial for delivering a higher ROI, and achieving the goals your business is aiming for. Your digital agency should not only be able, but also happy, to thoroughly explain why they are choosing to go down a particular path in the strategy, and what results they are looking to achieve from it.

It’s particularly important to watch out for agencies that try to bamboozle and intimidate you with industry jargon and technical terms when you ask them about the strategy. Remember, if someone can’t break down a complex concept for you into simple terms that can be understood in layman language, then they either don’t understand it themselves or are hiding something very important from you.

At Refokus we have a tried and true methodology based on agile development, with a focus on scrum but tweaked specifically for our team’s fast-paced workflow. We have four Production Stages:

  1. Discovery: Our process begins with a content review, where via calls with the client we gather all the information we need to kick off the project.
  2. Strategy: Once we have all the information we need, we create a moodboard and wireframes to ensure everyone understands what is going to be built and how.
  3. Design: Once both teams are confident and ready, we dive into design, defining the look and feel of your project and polishing each detail. We then share all of our designs so you and your team can provide feedback and add comments.
  4. Implementation: Once the design is fully approved we jump into implementation, making everything responsive, pixel-perfect and beautiful.

2. Make sure you are involved

As a client, you should take every opportunity to be hands-on in terms of collaboration, to share whatever unique insights, knowledge and experience you have in your industry so that the agency is in a better position to provide more value for your users/customers.

As a client, your digital agency of choice should include you in the project management software (such as Produck) that they use so you can go in and see the progress being made at any time during the month. Yes, you may be too busy running your own business to check in regularly but it’s definitely an option you should have as far as transparency goes.

Here at Refokus, we believe both the client and the agency have important elements to bring to the table and that the success of a project depends on how well these elements are combined.

3. Communication is everything

The most important element in any successful relationship (be it personal or professional) is communication. No matter how good your intentions as a client, if the communication with your digital agency is lacking, the project is bound to fail. Here are some key communication tips for clients:

  • Share goals and expectations with your agency early and revisit as needed, if the strategy changes. Always be honest and tell the truth about your expectations and feedback.
  • Assign a point person to spearhead the task of ensuring regular communication from your end just like the agency will have an project manager running point on your account from their end.
  • Regularly check-in with emails, touch base calls or via the project management app your digital agency uses (as explained above) so that any arising issues can be dealt with quickly. Here at Refokus we have a Slack channel with our clients for open communication.
  • Share with them any info you feel they should know, the more the better. This includes product development roadmaps, upcoming partnership announcements, new big customers, etc.
  • Be responsive so that you don’t miss out on any time-sensitive opportunities your digital agency may uncover for you. Make sure to respond to emails and opportunity suggestions quickly such that you don’t cause any bottlenecks for the project.
  • Don't just conduct transactions, build relationships too. Take time to ask questions, listen, and get to know who you’re dealing with personally and professionally. Genuine conversation with your project manager breeds transparency and also encourages loyalty and commitment.

In conclusion

Agencies are crucial partners in driving business growth and navigating today’s complex and steadily growing variety of modern day technologies and the business needs that come with them. Whether you’re looking for website design, UI/UX design for web apps, or product consulting services, transparency is the key to having a successful agency relationship.

The imperative lies with you as a client to make sure that this transparency is not just a buzzword in your dealings with your digital agency of choice. By following the above tips, you can build stronger and more effective relationships with your digital agency. 

Published on:
March 26, 2020
Time to read:
5 min