The Art of Client Service

The Art of Client Service

I finished reading “The Art of Client Service” by Robert Solomon over the weekend, and really enjoyed it. It’s a good, quick read (I finished in about 2-3 hours) that’s great for anyone in advertising, although especially useful for Account Managers/Directors and other frequently client-facing folks. Unfortunately it is not available in Kindle Edition, so I had to resort to reading a hardcover, something that I do so infrequently it felt foreign to me – but I digress…

The key takeaways / most important points that I found useful in this book were:

  • The importance of client service – good work alone isn’t enough to keep a client – plenty of times there is great marketing that is being produced, but the client/agency relationship is not renewed or continued. For instance  the agency that wrote the line “The ultimate driving machine” for BMW no longer has that account, despite great work being done. Having a strong relationship with the client will help your good work be more appreciated, your “bad” work be more easily forgiven, and ensure the client renews & continues to give you their business.
  • Getting buy-in – getting buy-in is important, regardless of the form of advertising/marketing you’re performing. In digital, our problem is often getting clients to implement our technical recommendations – they agree to the concept but don’t take ownership of the ideas and execute. Our friends in creative advertising can help here – by drafting briefs that identify the objectives, key facts, audience, competition and assumptions – and including the client in the drafting of these briefs – we can make sure expectations are aligned, clients have buy-in, and are on-board with our recommendations. Getting formal signatures on briefs, or presenting the briefs in person, can be ways to enhance this process.
  • Delivering internal feedback – giving props, respecting those who gave their time, and always identifying what is “good” with work before criticizing it are all ways to encourage good work, motivate your team, and make sure that your feedback isn’t crushing those who you’re delivering it upon. The agency world runs on internal kudos & recognition – so dole it out generously  and never take credit for anything if you can help it.
  • Delivering client presentations are as important as new business presentations – self explanatory  Stay hungry, and make every presentation count. Just because they’re a current client doesn’t mean you get to rest on your heels…
  • On taking blame – as the account guy, that sometimes means you gotta be the fall guy. Deal with it, it’s part of the job. Taking ownership of mistakes and showing integrity will build trust with the client, and can become a positive when dealt with correctly.
  • Know the client’s business – know the client and the client’s business better than they do. Understand the macro & micro-economic trends, and be able to support everything with facts. The client is paying for your judgement – don’t be a “yes” man, be an expert.

Being a great account person involves having integrity, bringing forth ideas (to both the client & internal teams), having stellar judgement, and excellent communication skills. Bring all of these talents to the client and you go from “an empty suit” to a real value-add to both the client and the agency. Lastly – knowing the concepts in the book is much different than living the concepts in the book, so in the words of Nike…Just do it.

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