Here at Adam London, we spend our days working with owner – managed Digital, Marketing & Advertising Agencies connecting them with their next wave of talented client services folks. We’re really passionate about this as attracting and retaining these professionals is one of the biggest pain points and challenges that Agency owners face without exception. As the transformation in the marketing world evolves at great pace, the industry is looking for a continually adapting generation of client services professionals.
So, I thought it might be useful to share a few insights that some of the Agency owners we partner with have discussed with me over recent months in terms of the key traits and skills they look for in today’s client services person.
Excellent account direction can seem to some like a pseudo form of dark art; it can be quite unclear what happens behind the scenes but when executed brilliantly, campaigns run without a ‘perceived’ hitch and the work is delivered with aplomb, within budget, on time and exceeding all expectations.
On the flip-side, when done badly the process can be tiresome, exasperating and you will ultimately lose faith in your agency partners to deliver. More often than not, this results in the loss of business, and more damaging, loss off reputation and negative tongues wagging in the marketplace.
It goes without saying that it is business critical to have a highly engaged and motivated client services team. They create momentum, provide a great foundation for growth and go a long way to underpinning the success for both them and their clients.
Ultimately and most importantly, they enable Agency owners to step away from day to day operations so they can focus ‘on’ the business and focus their energies on looking at vision, strategy and key partnerships that will drive medium-long term value for the Agency and their shareholders.
Exceptional client service is what creates value for all parties but as this craft evolves it also has to include a mix of familiar core skills that we’ve become well acquainted with. Here are the recurring key themes:
Question, listen and understand:
The ability to question, listen and understand key business problems; getting this right and unearthing what the key issues are will stand you in great stead right at the outset of every partnership.
Reading between the lines:
The expertise and nous to read between the lines of what a client is telling you and see the real meaning behind their communication; we call it being a “commercial detective”, having that six sense if you like, that enables you to really understand they key issues which will help you to propose the requisite solutions.
Passion & work ethic:
An indefatigable work ethic and passion for the business; this clearly goes without saying, having rigour and discipline is what makes the magic happen and puts a look of satisfaction on a client’s face.
Positivity regardless of the situation:
An unerring level of positive energy & enthusiasm when faced with all manners of situations; I went to a seminar years ago and listened to the CEO of a global Agency who vehemently outlined the importance of this. He said that at the end of every day, be it either challenging, rewarding or down right terrible, that his lips were worn out as a result of the imprinted smile on his face…
Being that trusted business partner who genuinely adds value and is always thinking about enhancing the client experience and overall relationship. It sounds simple and obvious, but doing exactly what you say you are going to do is a MUST…we all remember when a partner fails to do a task they said they’d do and it takes a while to jettison this tag once you get it.
And, let’s not forget, the skill to think on your feet commercially and ensure you are always thinking about creating future opportunities. Great client services people are inherently great sales people, they are always thinking about the next potential project and looking at adding and maximising value.
Long gone are the ‘bag carrier’ days, these yesteryear folks got lost in the ether a long time ago!
Once you’ve mastered all the above, the key to future-proofing success is how you take the relationship to the next level. Take a moment to ask yourself some of these questions.
How well do I REALLY know my client? Are they married, do they have family, what do they like doing in their spare time, are they into music or art or an avid football or golf fan?
Common sense, right? But how many of the questions above struck a chord and honestly, how many of the answers do you know?
By taking a vested interest in your clients as individuals really makes the difference and enables you to take the partnership to the next level. In fact, a true measure in this day and social age, is how many of your clients are you friends with on Facebook? That will get you thinking & hopefully firing a few friend requests out…!