4 Fundamental Principles For Excellence in Client Service In Agencies

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4 Fundamental Principles For Excellence in Client Service In Agencies
4 Fundamental Principles For Excellence in Client Service In Agencies

I’m a philosopher who has spent the majority of my career developing software and doing digital things, and I’ve only recently taken over as CEO. So, what the hell am I supposed to know? However…

 

Through another lens, I’ve been running my own business in one form or another for nearly 27 years, and as such, every client, every rand of revenue, every project that’s gone right and wrong, every relationship that’s thrived or tanked is partly my fault.

 

In practice, I’ve been a client partner for nearly three decades. What I’ve learned on this absurdly long journey is that four fundamental principles define what clients really want from their direct contacts in an agency.

 

  1. They want you to be concerned.

It’s not easy to be concerned. It does not simply mean, “I care that we were fired and that I harmed my reputation in the company” or “I don’t want to be perceived as a failure.” That is taking care of yourself.

Caring about a client entails taking a genuine interest in their well-being and the company for which they work; it entails feeling genuine accomplishment when something works, their business grows, or they achieve a significant victory. When they aren’t doing well, it means worrying and losing sleep. This isn’t something you can fake. Don’t work in customer service if you believe it is a job based on feigned enthusiasm. Client service should only be handled by people who are well-versed in their field.

2.You should have an opinion.

And it should be beneficial. Clients don’t want to pay you to say things like “I wouldn’t know,” “I’ve never heard of that,” or “I’ll check with my strategist and get back to you.”

 

If that is the level of engagement you are capable of, you are not playing a valuable role. Educate yourself by reading up, watching YouTube videos, and scheduling time with colleagues to have them explain things properly. Go to the client’s workplace and spend some time with them. I frequently see cases where clients would prefer to speak with the agency team rather than their client service representative.

They would not try to avoid you if you were a valuable asset to them. The best client service representatives are the most knowledgeable about the client, their category, and their preferences, and they can act as their emissary within the agency. They are also free to offer thoughts, advice, and suggestions that the marketer may not see themselves because they are not subject to the internal pressures of a corporate hierarchy.

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This isn’t “value add” – it’s the essential function of the job. The value add is taking notes and delivering them to others.

 

3.Discuss advantages rather than features (or scope)

Clients are aware that they must pay for our services. They understand that time is valuable and that agencies make the majority of their money by selling hours. They don’t need to be reminded all the time.

They hear arrogance and threats when the first response to any request is “we’ll have to bill you for that” or “I’ll send you a quote.” There is a reason why the legal profession is mocked and derided for billing for every phone call, text message, and email. However, in their case, you usually don’t have a choice – few people hire a lawyer unless they are forced to.

Lawyers can be brilliant, perceptive, and helpful. But no one confuses them for nice. Law firms are not agencies. Legal scholars are not creative directors. Marketing clients, in general, enjoy working with their agencies because they want to see us succeed, do amazing work, deliver exceptional results, and, yes, even win awards from our peers. They actively seek something from us that should be a joy but is all too often overlooked: fun.

That is why they congregate in our offices (used to). That is why they want to be a part of big film shoots and meet famous stars. When a client requests something extra, the only appropriate response is “that’s a great idea, and I’m on it.” Many CFOs and grey-suited bureaucrats cringe at that short sentence, but I stand by it every time. Because if you need to call and say, “We need some extra budget to make this amazing,” you’re more likely to get a warm response rather than a brick wall.

4. Be human, and see human.

Labels can be useful in some situations. Knowing who sits where in a client company’s hierarchy, as well as who has what authority within the agency, is essential. However, all of these people – whether the CEO or the cleaner – are human beings just like you.

Being genuine, genuine caring, funny, and interesting works equally well at all levels of the client’s business – and it pays dividends. If you’re a good person in general, you’ll be able to find a place where you can be honest with your client and they can be honest with you. That is where the magic is.