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The Introverts’ Guide to Client Services


Hannah Butcher

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SEO is an industry that seems like it has a lot of loud voices, but in reality, many of us are really just sitting behind our laptop screens scouring Google Search Console and adding tickets to JIRA.

That's why getting on a phone call (or worse, a physical in-person meeting!) with a client can feel like a Big Deal. The kind of Big Deal which means a working day of 7.5 hours can consist only of thinking about the call, doing the call, and then analysing every single detail of that call, before wanting to crawl under a blanket (and to stay there for at least 24 hours).

This is how I felt in my early SEO career when I was an SEO Executive and then a Manager. But before going freelance, I most recently worked in client services at Re:signal, looking after over £1 million in client revenue in my team alone.

This means I had a lot of potentially scary calls and meetings, especially as a neurodivergent (autistic and ADHD) introvert. Yet, I thrived! Part of this is due to the fact that so much more of our business began to be conducted virtually due to the pandemic, and continued this way as we carried on as a remote-first business, but it was also because I took the time to understand myself and my limitations.

My aim today is to share my ways of surviving and thriving when it comes to dealing with client services as an introvert, so you can feel more confident in your own job. 

In the Introverts’ Guide to Client Services, you’ll learn:

  • Helpful methods to build client relationships to make each call or meeting less scary

  • What clients actually want to know about, and what they don't

  • How to get to the point where meetings and calls simply form a normal part of your working day

To help you on your way, I'll share my personal insights and stories from my 14 years in the industry; I promise that you won’t be alone in your struggles! And just to clarify, I also promise that I’m not setting out to make an industry full of extroverts, but instead promoting our introversion and how to make it work for us.

How to figure out if you’re an introvert

Maybe we need to take a few steps back before we move forward. How can you tell whether this is something that applies to you or not? Are you an introvert, extrovert or an ambivert? There are countless resources and quizzes online that can help you with this if you hop over to Google and do a search, but here’s a 10 question introvert/extrovert quiz from Adam Grant on the TED Ideas website that should give you a quick result.

Here’s my result: 2/10. I can confirm that I am indeed an introvert. I scored two points out of ten because I said I prefer working in a cafe, and often feel bored or understimulated; that’s what happens when introversion and ADHD collide in my case! Either way, there isn’t a right or wrong answer, and some people simply flip between introversion and extroversion, which is described as ambiversion.

If you haven’t come across it before, I’d also suggest taking a look at which has a free test so you can explore your ‘personality type’. Introversion and extraversion form part of this result, and you’ll discover more about being an introvert and what it means for you.

What is an introvert?

Many people think that an introvert is someone who is quiet or shy. This can be the case, but it’s really about where a person draws their energy from. An introvert is an individual who tends to be more reserved and reflective in social situations, and draws their energy from solitary activities and introspection. This is quite unlike extroverts who thrive in social settings and gain energy from interactions with others.

Introverts like me may find large gatherings draining, preferring meaningful one-on-one connections over extensive social engagements. This doesn’t mean that introverts stay away from these events, but they typically require periods of solitude to recharge and regain their mental energy! If you’ve ever needed a whole weekend of decompression to recover after an industry conference, this may well be the reason.

Dealing with clients as an introvert

I’m going to tell you something that you probably won’t believe: being socially awkward can actually be hugely beneficial when you’re building client relationships.

“But I can’t do small talk!”, I hear you cry. SAME, my friend. Small talk can get in the bin. I’d much rather talk to you for hours about the night sky and its constellations, the recent and/or imminent volcanic activity in Iceland, or maybe we’d dissect the latest Star Wars spin off series streaming on Disney+. Whatever it is, it definitely isn’t:

  • “What did you get up to this weekend?”

  • “What are your plans for tonight?” (why do people ask this on a Tuesday? The answer is of course TV and chocolate) or,

  • “How was your holiday?”

Being nervous about small talk shouldn’t be a barrier to dealing with clients as an introvert. In the following section, I’ll help you with some helpful methods to build client relationships to make each call or meeting less scary!

Making meetings less scary

In short, I’d suggest that you build your client relationships using your natural strengths as an introvert, instead of pretending to be extroverted. Here are some tips that you can use:

Prioritise preparation:
As an introvert, you can use strengths such as deep focus and analytical skills to thoroughly prepare for each client interaction. This can be something as simple as creating a pre-meeting checklist or agenda, as well as noting down any potential questions that may be asked during the meeting.

Mirror your client:
Your introversion skills may include enhanced listening and reflection abilities, meaning you can tailor future meetings to your clients’ preferences. Take on-board their feedback for meeting length, format and follow ups. For example, forcing a weekly catch-up call for the sake of it may not be necessary if they’d prefer one every two weeks instead. Wouldn’t it be great to have a breather?

Listen well:
As introverts often excel in active listening, it means you can showcase genuine interest and attentiveness. Others may speak to fill in empty silences, but you can do your part by taking notes, asking questions to clarify points, and to reflect what you’ve heard to reach consensus. This is a really valuable way to show that you have client service at the heart of your delivery.

Be human:
You may not be comfortable with small talk, so bring your big talk. In the past, I’ve broached topics such as my triathlon attempts or autism assessments with my clients. Yes, these are things you need to take a leap of faith for, but they’ve helped me to build true relationships with clients who see me as a person, rather than just someone to complain to when things go wrong. If this is a step too far, I’ve always found that showing enthusiasm for a client’s product or service is a good way to break the ice too. Remember: your client is human too!

Have a purpose:
Sometimes, the fear can just come from the unknown. Many of us fall into the habit of having client calls because they’re simply part of the statement of work, but without a reason to host those calls, the thought of running them can feel overwhelming. Above, I recommended having an agenda, but you can also use a roadmap to guide you on the past, present and future of the project. If there’s a specific reason you need to have a call, such as to present a deliverable, make this clear to the client with a purpose and desired outcomes. This automatically makes for a less intimidating interaction.

Follow up:
The relief of finishing one phone call can distract you from the fact that you’ll have to do it all over again soon enough. But it’s better to be organised with your meeting follow-ups to set the tone right for the future. As one of your introverted strengths may be providing clear points and actions from all of that great listening, you can use this to your advantage and lead on the summary emails. It shows you care, as well as demonstrating a high level of professionalism and client servicing.

Know what clients want to know, and what they don’t

Based on the section above, we should probably cover a few caveats in terms of client conversations:

Be human, but don’t be brash:
I mentioned that I had discussed my autism assessments with some clients, which came about due to a natural extension of speaking about some of the thought leadership work I was doing about neurodiversity. These lead-ins are a softer way to approach a personal topic without alienating who you’re speaking to straight away. There are some clients you probably won’t ever feel comfortable with in this way, and that’s perfectly fine. Some relationships can function on a purely business basis and you don’t need to share everything.

Clarity is everything:
Some of the most cringeworthy moments in a client meeting or call will come from something being said that’s as clear as mud. By that, I mean that someone from either party has said something that hasn’t landed as it should, and/or has been misunderstood. Or the statement was just incorrect and it’s caused confusion. Either way, I urge you to practise the art of saying “we’ll get back to you on that one over email”, or “it looks like we might need to research that a bit more before committing to a final answer”. If it’s about delivery expectations that simply aren’t in budget, try saying “we’ll have a look at our current scope to see if that’s possible, and we’ll follow up with a few options”. Don’t just say yes if it’s going to be a no because that’ll make your next call 10 times harder.

Get to the point:
Because you’re probably not a fan of too much fuss and fluff, you will have a gift of being able to get down to business faster than some of your extroverted peers. As long as you aren’t cutting into the middle of a friendly conversation by redirecting everyone’s attention to the matter at hand, you’ll likely win over a client with your efficient manner. Diaries can easily become back-to-back meetings, so having a call that stays within the allocated time, every time, can be an unspoken victory for your clients.

I bet you’re feeling better about your introverted nature already, right? Now the only thing left to cover is how you can get to the point where meetings and calls simply form a normal part of your working day…

Getting used to meetings and calls

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy or natural as an introvert to transition to a work routine that includes meetings and calls, but strategies can help to make it more manageable. That’s certainly been the case for me, throughout my career.

Set your own personal goals:
Earlier, I spoke about how an agenda and meeting plan can make things easier, but you can go further than this and set your own personal goals for growth too. You can start with something small like planning to ask one question per meeting, or answering one instead. You can then build up to bigger goals as your confidence grows with that particular client.

Find ways to manage your anxiety:
You’ll discover your own coping mechanisms, but spoiler: it shouldn’t be calling in sick every time you have a client call scheduled. (If that’s the case, you’re best off finding a role which has less client interaction time!). Being prepared is a big one for a lot of people, and there are various ways to do this. If you’re due to present a quarterly update to a client, do an internal run-through first so you can get helpful feedback before the actual meeting. You can also use sticky notes on your monitor to remind yourself of essential points.

Set boundaries:
It will be more important for you than others to establish clear boundaries for your availability. Let your colleagues know your preferred times for meetings, and don't hesitate to communicate when you need some time alone to focus on your work. Again, you’ll need to keep some time available, but try and schedule meetings so you can have a break in-between sessions to take a breather, reflect, and get focused for the next one. Google Calendar even has a ‘Focus Time’ option now, so don’t be afraid to use it.

Find a fall back:
If every call feels like a whirlwind, the opportunity to do a follow up email will feel like stepping back indoors on a blustery day. It’s the time when everything can slow down to your pace, and you can have a second chance at righting anything that you thought went wrong. Obviously, you don’t want to have to relive the entire meeting in this follow up email, but you can reflect and refine as needed, and to answer any questions which didn’t have a clear answer earlier on.

Hopefully all of these tips means that getting on a phone call with a client won’t feel like such a Big Deal from now on. Although I definitely do advocate plenty of rest time with blankets and snacks, you shouldn’t need to stay there hiding for a full day every time you have a meeting now.

It would be great to hear about your own strategies and tips for handling client services as an introvert, as I love to learn new ways to get better at my job too!

Hannah Butcher

Hannah Butcher - Freelance Marketer, Agency Angel

Hannah is a Freelance Marketer who has worked in SEO since 2009. She's worked both agency and client side, and specialises in working with eCommerce brands. Hannah advocates for neurodivergence and mental health in the digital marketing industry.

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