How Clients and Agencies Should Treat Each Other

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How Clients and Agencies Should Treat Each Other

A Case for Staying True to Our Expio Core Values and Using Karma to Create Educational Opportunities

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Sometimes what goes around really does come around. 

We had a client that started out a great fit with Expio. There was mutual respect and great communication. 

Then, leadership changed on their end, and suddenly we found ourselves challenging our own three core values, which are:

Expio Core Values

  1. No BS: Be honest and transparent. We don’t tolerate lying, evading or deceiving internally or from clients.
  2. No A-holes: We value strong team and client respect, trust, professionalism, and momentum. We take responsibility for the good and bad in the relationship while encouraging, fostering, educating and leading by example. Team members, clients, or vendors who are demeaning or untrustworthy are let go.
  3. No ASAP: A toxic term that invokes anxiety and interrupted workflows. We value speed and responsiveness accompanied by excellent planning, organization and communication. We do not burden others unnecessarily with “emergency” time constraints without first giving them the benefit of an explanation.

Before long, these guys were acting a bit shady. They were treating us with disrespect, throwing people under busses, perpetuating scope creep and overall causing our team stress and grief.

Chief of their misgivings, they were breaking our No ASAP rule. In fact, to them, everything was ASAP; everything was always a dumpster fire in dire need of unreasonable completion deadlines. We’d receive a dozen emails a day asking for minute-by-minute updates on “emergency” projects. This tendency massively interrupted our workflow as a team, and it was nearly impossible to prioritize, since every task for this client was considered urgent. 

Worse yet, they treated us like we were habitually late delivering projects and as if we were untrustworthy.

This Client Chewed Up Our Values and Spit Them Out

The culture this client perpetuated just isn’t the way we work. We don’t ASAP each other or our clients. And we don’t allow clients to ASAP us. (Except in the case of a true emergency.)

So, we worked to try to coach this client toward our culture of respect. But, it’s not easy when these behaviors are ingrained.

That’s When Karma Showed Up

This client sold one of the company properties, and they soon found themselves working with the new owner’s agency as they moved assets to the new ownership.

Can you imagine what happened next? 

You guessed it: That agency poured on the ASAP to our client. Our client was more than annoyed to receive such unfriendly demands. They were so aggravated that they called us, pleading for our help during this “emergency.”

At this point, we wanted to say things like, “Hi, Pot! Meet Kettle!” 

But, in true Expio fashion, we offered respect and a teaching moment.

Our advice to our client: Don’t accept ASAP. Settle on reasonable deadlines. Through a consistent, deep-rooted culture of respect and good communication, teach others how to accept your values.

Should You ASAP?

Next time you want to knee-jerk ASAP a teammate, a vendor or even a boss, stop and think:

  1. Is this truly an emergency? (IE: Is a website down? Is there blood?)
  2. When do I really need this project due? Later next week? In two months?
  3. What are the ramifications if I ASAP this project? Is this worth disrupting the team and shifting their focus away from other projects and workflows?
  4. How am I going to affect company culture? Is this ASAP project going to incite panic, fear and frustration? Is it worth it?
  5. How does it feel to be ASAP’d? Do I really want to inflict those feelings on the team unless vitally necessary?

Instead, stay consistent and stick to your values. The team will follow, and they’ll be glad they did.

Everyone Survived

In the end, our client survived the nightmare third-party transaction. The Expio team was grateful for the experience, because our client learned first hand how it felt to get the ASAP treatment, and they became much more careful about using it on us. The end result was a relationship based on communication and respect. And that’s what it’s all about for us.

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