The Drum Recommends Advertising

Why client feedback is more important than ever for the future of agencies


By Cat Hartland, Head of The Drum Recommends

March 10, 2021 | 4 min read

With customer experience at the top of the agenda for all brands, agencies are also learning just how important the client experience has become in a business context.

Getting feedback

Head of The Drum Recommends, Cat Hartland, on closing the feedback loop with clients.

With no in-person contact for the last twelve months, the everyday interactions between client and agency have become where relationships are formed. When once the casual coffee or a working lunch would establish rapport, now the likes of Zoom or a Teams meeting is the only place available for interaction.

In this solely screen-based dynamic there is a limited loop for direct client feedback and this absence of direct client contact may be limiting agencies' opportunity to transform.

In a recent survey by The Drum, which garnered responses from 126 agencies from 31 different countries, over half of the agencies responding said the pandemic had seen them change their offering or that they intended to do so.

This response was typical of many received from the agency community;"We had existing clients freeze their budgets, some just disappeared in the onboarding process, and then we won a few new projects. Like for everyone, it's been a cathartic experience. We had to rethink our offerings and calibrate to prepare for a new "normal".

With this period of accelerated change set to continue, certainty may remain hard to come by for agencies, but regardless, many agencies surveyed expect to bounce back stronger in 2021.

60% expect revenues to increase this year and those who adapted fast, to recalibrate their offer in line with the changing demands of their clients can be more confident.

Whilst so many things around us change, as always, it pays to understand the expectations and needs of your clients. Last year’s winning agencies at The Drum Recommends Awards proved the point and used The Drum Recommends ratings process as a source of high-quality, direct and actionable customer insight:

It turns out, simply asking for feedback doesn't just gain you valuable insight but can have a positive impact on a client relationship too. Those winning agencies shared some salient pointers;

  1. Ask for feedback – it shows your client that you're proactive about improving.

  2. Show empathy – the client/supplier barriers are falling away and client organisations are also experiencing significant change.

  3. Turn positive feedback into recommendations – If your customers rate you highly, they might be happy to recommend you to others, don’t be shy in asking.

Customer insight is stock in trade for every agency planning effective campaigns for their clients, but is often neglected when it comes to their own customers. As in the case of these agencies an insight-led approach to understand your own clients can pay dividends.

As new working practice emerges and technology continues to develop, the role of agencies will continue to change. For that change to be positive, how agencies receive and interpret feedback from their clients will be vital.

The deadline for The Drum Recommends Marketing and Advertising Awards is now 24 March. To enter, become a member here and start inviting clients to rate you before the deadline.

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