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Investing in soft skills employees is just as important as developing technical staff

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Agencies, like many other businesses, rely on developing and building strong, long-term connections with their clients in order to grow and succeed. Fundamentally, we’re all hard-wired to connect to each other on a human level first, before we connect to someone’s skills or abilities. And we all know how important first impressions are. That’s why you need to make sure that right from the get-go, you have people in your team who have the ability to listen, communicate and connect effectively with clients.

In our industry, as in most service industries, clients don’t buy a ‘product’, they buy people. They choose an agency based on “personality fit”, as well as who they believe will be able to deliver the right and most effective solution for them.

Digital agencies are often a real hotchpotch of personalities and characters, with a heady blend of your super technical ‘geeky’ developers, to your more expressive, and often brutally honest designers. While in a small agency it’s important to have a good mix of ‘hard’ technical skills, attitudes and experiences, it can sometimes make communication and inter-departmental working somewhat of a challenge. And often these super-talented technical whizzes aren’t always best placed to speak to clients, or understand their needs.

Clients don’t often understand, or more importantly don’t want to understand the detail and technicalities – that is after all why they’ve employed an expert in the first place! They need someone to interpret the technical speak and put it in terms that are relevant to them, and their objectives for the project. And it works the other way too; the briefs that clients give aren’t always fully-formed and often need questioning, expanding on and breaking down in order to create a complete technical brief for the creative and development teams. This is where those members of your team with softer, interpersonal and communication skills really come in to their own.

Developing soft skills

In an agency, you’ll often find that it’s those in the ‘client service’ roles that have the strongest ‘soft skills’. That’s generally because good client service is all about listening, understanding and communicating effectively.

A client recently told me to treat them as an idiot. That’s not an easy thing to manage. You need to make sure that you’re still showing respect, and not being condescending, while spelling things out in simple, ‘idiot-proof’ terms. It’s a fine line! In fact, client services can quite often be like walking a tightrope – you never know what obstacles you’re going to have to jump over. You need to be able to remain calm and adapt under pressure – or at least be able to portray a sense of calmness, even if you’re doing the ‘swan’ and paddling madly under the surface.

In an agency it is important to get along, work together and communicate effectively – whether that’s with each other, or with our clients. At Hydra Creative, we pride ourselves on that ‘heads together’ approach.

If you would like to discuss how our approach could help your business, we would love to hear from you. Get in touch with our friendly team today.

Ruth Morgan, senior account manager, Hydra Creative

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