How to Prevent Client Contentions

How to Prevent Client Contentions

Unfortunately, dealing with client contentions is a regular part of being an Account Manager.

We don’t like to think it, but not every client is happy with results of their campaign or their relationship with an Account Manager. When a contention arises, I often think about what I could have done differently in the past to avoid it, and in most situations, there was a solution.

So, what can you do to help prevent client contentions?

The easiest way to avoid contentious situations is to create an honest, healthy relationship with your clients. Below are some simple points on how to create just that:

1. Manage Clients Expectations

‘Manage Clients Expectations’ does not mean to under-promise. ‘Manage Clients Expectations’ means that you need to communicate realistic results and timelines, depending on the service.

Clients expect a lot, as they should. They are investing their money with you with the expectation of certain results in return. However, every program, service and campaign has its limitations. There is no miracle solutions or fast forward button. Things take time and there will mostly likely be multiple stages before you start reaching your goals.

So, make sure you tell them exactly that. Don’t make unrealistic expectation with the hope of making the client temporarily happy, or potentially closing out a sale. Instead, let them know from the outset how long something will take and what the expected results will be. Although some clients my convey impatience, it will foster a healthier, more successful relationship.

2. Transparency with Clients

The first thing I want to do when I see a successful campaign is call my client and let them know the good news.

The fact is, it’s easy to be transparent with a client when you are telling them something positive. The tough responsibility for an Account Manager comes when you have to confront a client about something that isn’t going well.

No one wants to have to tell a client something isn’t going as planned. However, being transparent with clients regarding results or your relationship with them can go a long way in creating a healthier partnership and creating trust. My Account Director also tells us: “You are an extension of your client's marketing department” -- thinking of it from this perspective makes it much easier when deciding to be transparent about the complete picture with your clients.

Not only that, but being completely transparent can reveal new things and potentially reveal solutions or explanations in conversations with your clients.

For example, over the last few months, you notice that organic traffic related to brand searches is significantly down for one of your clients. When communicating to your client, they reveal that they decreased the amount of print advertising this quarter, most likely resulting in less people searching for their brand. This is something you probably would not have discovered without discussing it with your client.

3. Consistent Communication

Always be one step ahead of your client when it comes to communication.

You should never have your client reach out to you to set up your next meeting, ask for a update or be the one to communicate some type of poor performance. It can be hard, especially when you start having multiple demanding accounts, but always being one to begin a conversation can go a long way towards establishing trust that their account is top of mind.

What are easy ways to do this?

  • Send a quick email: “ Hey, Matt! I just wanted to check in and see how things are going. I noticed that we had some great results in the campaign this week. We saw a spike in…” Check in and potentially accompany the email with some information related to their campaigns. It can create a conversation starter next time you talk.
  • Pick up the phone: Something that I like to do is compile a list of clients I haven’t talked to recently, and just give them a quick call for a chat at the end of the week. Even a ten minute conversation can go a long way.

The point is, not every form of communication has to be a formal meeting. Consistently checking in on your clients is an effective way to build the relationship.


At times, being an Account Manager can feel overwhelming. Juggling many accounts, tasks, priorities can become hectic, confusing and stressful. Help yourself out by creating healthy client relationships and reducing contentions by implementing some simple client contention prevention strategies.

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