Code of Conduct:
Setting up Boundaries and Maintaining Mutual Respect within the Client-Agency Relationship. Making Mental Health a Priority.
Who is this guide for?
If you work for MKCA or with MKCA, this guide is for you.
This is a document for clients and staff that outlines the norms of engagement between the client and the Agency in order to set our priorities:
- Maintain the MKCA culture of mutual respect.
- Protect the mental health of both employees and clients.
Setting the rules of engagement with clients
MKCA has established strict rules and limitations to protect our employees, notably Project Leads, who work directly with clients the most. By establishing agency-set standards of engagement, employees of the MKCA team avoid defining boundaries on their own, protecting customers from being treated unfairly or dealing with inconsistent boundaries being set. It sets common, healthy expectations for staff and clients.
Client-Agency relationships need to be a partnership built on mutual respect.
Although it has been a popular saying in agencies that “the customer is always right” or “the customer is king,” this implies that the balance of power lies with the Client, not the Agency. As a result, this kind of unbalanced relationship can lead to unhealthy habits amongst Agency employees who are trying to please the Client at all costs (working late, saying yes to unreasonable demands, etc.).
By establishing the rules of engagement upfront, MKCA seeks to avoid this kind of dysfunctional Client-Agency relationship and, instead, build one based on mutual respect. Striking a balance and making boundaries clear allows Agency employees to be more productive, the Agency to play its intended role, and for the Agency to work properly, which benefits the Client. It’s good for business and the well-being of Agency employees.
Why are such detailed standards necessary?
Setting a code of conduct with clients upfront is a healthy method for us to communicate how we will work together, what clients can expect from us (and what they should not), and what we expect from clients.
We should all go into business together knowing what to expect from each other.
5 Ways We Keep Our Team Safe / One
Respect Personal Time
Our hours of work are (9 am to 5 pm). We work after hours for exceptional situations, like meetings with people in different time zones. While an occasional request to ruch a project or work out of hours is okay, more regular out-of-hours work will incur extra fees to compensate. An early start or staying late should only be an option in rare, extreme situations. Clients should not expect this as standard and try not to take advantage of the generosity of the Agency team to suit their schedules.
Expected and acceptable situations:
• Weekly or regularly scheduled meetings agreed upon with clients that have a reasonable reason for out of hours requests (e.g. they are in a greatly different time zone to ours.)
NOT expected and acceptable out-of-hours:
• Replying to instant messages or emails.
• Actively working on tasks and projects (unless explicitly agreed upon and for rare and exceptional circumstances).
5 Ways We Keep Our Team Safe / Two
Clear and honest communication is essential.
At MKCA, we always aim to be open and honest about any misalignment, obstacles, or difficulties the Agency is having working with a client. That way, we can address any issues head-on as soon as possible and maintain our Agency’s efficacy and productivity.
5 Ways We Keep Our Team Safe / Three
Bi-Directional Respect of Boundaries
When clients or staff mistakenly step over defined boundaries, we will kindly remind them.
Here are some of the boundaries clients should respect and expect:
- The right to say no – especially to unreasonable demands.
- Extra charges (e.g. rush fees for urgent requests or out of hours).
- Professional, friendly, and respectful treatement as well as in all forms of communication (verbal, email, etc.) If a client is being aggressive, intimidating, or abusive, Agency employees will politely refuse to discuss anything with them – or will suggest further interaction include more people for support (e.g. their Top Manager or Megan).
Under no circumstances will this sort of behavior from a client be tolerated at MKCA. Clients who speak aggressively to members of the agency team or who bully them in any way will be given warnings and the opportunity to amend their behavior. If the client’s behavior persists after a reasonable warning, the Agency will terminate the client in a professional manner that meets the Agency’s contractual duties.
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Clients should always know what to expect.
From the get-go, in discovery and intro session with every client, we should set clear, consistent expectations and remain consistent throughout the project.
This includes clearly outlining working hours and when clients may expect a response from their Project Lead, as well as confirming SLAs for certain activities. At MKCA, our policy is to always keep clients up to date – there should be no surprises.
5 Ways We Keep Our Team Safe / Five
There is no shame in speaking up.
No one should feel bad about setting limits and refusing to put up with inappropriate behavior. We want Agency employees to feel safe and heard.