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Seven secrets of client servicing for agency growth



The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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April 21, 2016 | 5 min read

Client servicing is never going to be viewed as the most glamorous part of agency life, but getting it right can be as much of an art as anything your creative team might do. Without the right relationship in place between client and agency, even your best creative concepts will struggle to see the light of day.

Marcus Bennett is creative director at ab..the ideas agency.

Marcus Bennett is creative director at ab..the ideas agency.

Here are a few tips we at ab…the ideas agency have gathered from our own experience:

Love what your client does

Your team are all experts in their particular field and all have a personal passion for creativity, which is fab and important, but nurturing a collective curiosity and appreciation about the rest of the world and your clients world it also important. Ensure the team is a collective sponge, absorbing knowledge and opinions, which in turn feeds your engine of understanding and insight.

Banish I, me, my

The way to the best creative solution is a seamless team ethic, from client, to suit, to creative to strategist. Each member should have a knowledge and appreciation of all the processes involved in the project and they should all be striving for the same thing. It's not about one-upmanship.

Always ask Y

If a client tells you they want 'X', that doesn't mean to say that they really need 'X'. The job of client services is to have such a strong relationship with your client that you can have candid, direct conversations about the brief. You need to be able to challenge it and be opinionated. Maybe 'Y' is the answer to the business problem? Never assume the first answer the client proposes is the correct one!

The client doesn’t need a 'Yes' man. Ok, you need to get the job done, quickly, efficiently and on budget, but the whole reason your client has hired you in the first place is because he or she can't do what you can. That’s why they are paying money for your opinion, so show your value by voicing it! Of course, it’s a fine line and much of knowing when to shut up and get on with it is about experience. Text books aren't going to help!

Creativity and technology grow companies

Technology is changing the world. The old rules no longer apply. Resign yourself to the fact that you'll never know it all and surround your team with external consultants, whizz kids and subject experts. Powerful ideas are usually born out of beautifully simple collective thoughts, combined with creativity and flexibility, enabling you to enhance your offering and stay relevant.

Wear your happy head

The other part to client servicing that we try and live and breathe at AB, is a 'can do' attitude. Nothing new there you might say, but if you truly practice this, it makes for a very respectful client.

So don't moan - approach every job in the same way, with a real sense of determination, a sense of purpose and that twinkle in the eye…This isn’t something you can be taught but, paradoxically, it is something you can learn for yourself. Give it a go – actively decide to stop complaining about things for a week and see what happens next!

Enjoy the roller coaster ride

Delivering a great project can sometimes have its downs as well as its ups. No matter how good your processes are, things can wobble, so how you and your team members respond during a hiccup leaves a lasting impression on clients. Ensure you're the team that maintained the enthusiasm and turned it around, not the ones who became defensive and started finger-pointing. Be known as ‘the good guys’ by both clients and suppliers, cos you never know where the next recommendation will come from.

Celebrate success

Success has never been so easy to measure, so when things go really well make sure everyone knows about it. If you're beaming ear-to-ear about a great result, share the sunshine. If everyone in the company is feeling positive and upbeat, the rest of the world notices.

Marcus Bennett is creative director at ab..the ideas agency.

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