Digital Agency Census: Bind Media’s co-founder reveals secrets of its client service
Agency and client relationships have changed radically over the last two years. But providing good service is as valuable as ever. One agency that knows plenty about how to provide solid support during times of crisis is Bind Media, voted best digital agency in the country by clients in The Drum’s Digital Agency Census. Its co-founder Eliot Shiner explains how it achieved that honor.
Bind Media was voted best digital agency in the country by clients in The Drum’s Digital Agency Census / The Drum
What constitutes great client service? Pre-pandemic, this largely meant providing excellent results, never missing a deadline and doing it all with a smile. Over the last two years, perceptions of what constitutes excellent client service have shifted for both agencies and brands alike.
The pandemic cemented the importance of agencies being there to not only provide a service, but also to support and guide clients through times of adversity.
At Bind Media, we’re humbled to have recently been voted the number one UK digital agency by our clients, and we’ve been reflecting on the key attitudes and behaviors we believe lead to our success.
An approach guided by empathy, adaptability and transparency has proven to be the pinnacle of our own strength in client satisfaction as an agency.
Empathy and consideration
In Salesforce’s recent ‘State of the Connected Customer’ report, 90% of customers say how a company acts during a crisis demonstrates its trustworthiness. Without a doubt, empathetic and considerate behavior builds trust – the necessary bedrock for excellent client service.
Taking the time to understand the unique challenges faced by clients, and being able to acknowledge those and work together to find creative solutions, has been crucial to forging and strengthening our client service and relationships down to a personal level.
As an agency, we’ve looked for other ways to add value and support our clients that go beyond our core responsibilities.
Whether it’s hosting free business workshops, providing insight into greater business opportunities, or pausing our retainers and being more flexible with our payment terms, the overall long-term benefit is tangible – coming out the other end stronger and closer than before.
But this isn’t just about idealism. We put these policies into practice by weaving them throughout the fabric of our client-facing teams and wider agency.
Without developing an internal culture of empathy, sincerity, support and giving throughout our agency, this initiative wouldn’t have had the same impact.
As a fairly small agency, we’re especially conscious of this as we don’t have a dedicated client service team. Instead, our expert strategists incorporate this approach into managing client relationships and executing all areas of the strategy.
Adaptability and agility
Key to any relationship is ensuring goals are aligned and that you’re together moving in the same direction with the same expected outcomes. Due to the pandemic, it’s fair to say the anticipated journey has not been straightforward.
In the fallout of Covid-19, it’s evident that adaptability and agility are of the utmost importance. The pandemic has led to businesses of all shapes and sizes being left having to accommodate new working practices and methods of communication.
As a digital agency, we felt fortunate that our processes were easily adaptable. In the absence of office whiteboards and in-person meetings, we turned to the use of diagram tools such as Whimsical or project management tools such as ClickUp to collaborate more effectively.
Communicating via Slack has allowed for effective team and client communication, and that all-important water-cooler chat.
The acceleration of digitization and the involuntary requirement for its adoption throughout the last few years has been easier for some clients than others. We recognize the challenges facing our clients, and with those in mind we’ve maintained the mantra that the more we can do to help support them through this process, the stronger our relationships will grow.
With regards to reactivity, brands saw a dramatic shift in their requirement to adapt their tone of voice or external comms with sensitivity and consideration toward events that were born from the ashes of the pandemic.
Virtually no industry we work with has been exempt from large-scale change as a result of these circumstances. Providing insights around changing patterns and trends across search or significant shifts in consumer behavior has helped our clients to navigate this all with better confidence and understanding.
For many retail clients, supply chain issues have resulted in stock and fulfilment issues.
For B2B/SaaS firms, products and propositions were reinvented and features were developed to accommodate the drastically-increased demand for remote processes.
Healthcare operations have had to change their business models overnight to offer virtual/video appointments.
Clients in the travel sector had to operate around regular changes to entry rules and requirements. We’ve made their lives easier with a data-driven approach, utilizing travel advice APIs to keep them informed and help us automate elements of activity with efficiency.
Many businesses had no choice but to migrate from purely brick-and-mortar to launching online e-commerce stores for the first time to survive. With our extensive experience in this space, we’ve gone above and beyond to help them understand what platforms and tools may be most suitable.
In every scenario, adaptability and agility have been imperative – whether it’s being able to change messaging at short notice, dramatically reducing budgets with little notice due to cash flow issues, or rethinking our entire strategy and tactics to incorporate our clients’ changing circumstances.
According to research by McKinsey, many industries are forecast to not return to pre-pandemic levels of ‘normal’ until at least 2025. The journey isn’t over yet.
Transparency is what ties all of this together. New strategies and outside-the-box ideas only work if they’re realistic. We understand that, and our honesty about the risks of a given strategy underpins our client service success and is paramount to building trust.
Throughout the pandemic, we’ve continued to innovate and diligently experiment to foster growth, and we’ve clearly laid out the risks and rewards to make sure our clients are comfortable with them.
We’ve been forthcoming about our failures. By building custom data visualizations and dashboards for clients as a standard part of our service, they’ve been able to quickly understand the impacts of our efforts and the variables that influence them in an accessible and digestible format.
Perhaps most importantly, we’ve not forgotten to take time to celebrate the successes, big and small, in the most engaging and personable way we can.
So what is the future of client servicing? For us, it’s undoubtedly one that is underpinned with trust, and propels us forward with greater understanding, speed and clarity, whatever challenges are to come.
Eliot Shiner is co-founder of Bind Media.