The Reformed Art of “Client Service” in a Digital Agency
The reality is that we used to live in a world where clients just wanted digital, they were not sure what it was, but everyone had it, so they wanted it too. Today, we sit in a very different space, where our clients know the landscape of digital advertising and the benefits thereof, so we, as digital performance agencies, need to be able to constantly adapt the way in which we work.
This in turn affects the way we approach our clients, or maintain long standing relationships. No longer are we in the days of constantly upskilling clients as to what digital is, and our teams are moving away from being the digital suppliers to becoming partners and collaborating with our clients in the digital space.
From a South African perspective, this is something that is great to see, as it evidences that the skill-set and opportunities available in digital advertising are indeed growing; however it does come with its own set of challenges.
Everyone is a digital marketer
As more and more people create and manage their own websites, Facebook pages and ad accounts, they think that this makes them specialists in the industry. This is not the case, but it does make it exceptionally hard for digital performance agencies to compete against what we call “small fries” thanks to their extremely low rates. But we end up securing business later when the client realises their lack of experience and poor-quality delivery.
Training is expensive
Digital agencies need to invest money and training into all their teams. There is no point in a resource sitting in a new business meeting stating “I will get back to you on that” they need to have confidence when walking into a meeting, knowing they already have the answers. The only way to instill this confidence is by giving them the adequate training.
Robert Solomon once said, “In new business pitches, clients often claim to seek a relationship with the agency, yet select the winner based on which shop presented the work they liked best. Conversely, with existing accounts, clients often say it’s the work that matters, yet fire the agency because of a breakdown in the relationship.” It is evident that the core of service delivery is work and relationships, but how can you create a relationship if your core team do not understand the work?
There will never be an exact science or formula to client servicing, as every client has different needs and different temperaments, but the one thing that will never change is that a client will not let go of an agency they trust.
Something we like to take credit for at Algorithm is giving the specialist teams ownership of their accounts and the client servicing of it. How do we manage it?
- Give responsibility
- Lend a hand
- Push passion
In the world of performance marketing, campaign requirements can easily change weekly or daily. Having a middle-man paper pushing from client into production is just not efficient. Your specialist teams need to be client facing, and your client service teams need to have experience/understanding in doing the work that they manage and sell.
I will end this off with another quote from Robert Solomon, “We are smarter together than we are alone.”