05 Jan 2016

What is “Client Service” and why does it matter so much?

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When I got into advertising and marketing three decades ago, creative was king. Creative won awards. Creative got to act differently. Creative was… creative.

Over time, other departments ascended. Public Relations. Digital. In the early 2000s, promotions and events were huge.

Account service was and always has been, account service.

A recent survey on why clients fire their agencies tells a partial story. The report, from SoDA shows that clients are rarely unhappy with creative (5.8%), strategy (6.5%) and are even OK with project management (8%).

Where are they are unhappy?

When the agency doesn’t keep up with their needs (18.8%) and cost overruns (17.4%).

Both of these are elements of client service.

The Account Executive has a challenging role. They represent the client to the agency and the agency to the client. It is his or her role to deliver sometimes hard to deliver messages on projects, timing and costs. It is also critical that they deliver to clients message of agency growth, additional key staffing, company investments in their account and for other clients. While they do not always need to “sell,” as a practical matter, they need to deliver with enthusiasm to the client and to the agency staff.

Yet that begins by listening. Carefully. And thoughtfully. Rinck works very hard at listening to clients. It is baked into our DNA. Anyone overheard not letting a client finish a sentence is spoken to. Not because it is rude. But because sometimes the most important thing being spoken is at the end of the sentence. And as you can imagine, for smart people who truly want to help, listening to the end can be hard to do. Jumping in with an answer is human nature. It’s just not always the right answer to the actual question.

The agency Account Executive must be the front-line of delivering value. They take the hard calls. They make the hard calls. And everything they do must reflect the brand of the company they work for and the company they represent.

They must also have a working knowledge of everything we do here. Although they may not be the content experts, they must know enough about the complex world we work in to know what to do, what to recommend, what the options are and what the budget can support in a thousand scenarios.

Account work is so critical to clients. I am proud of the Account Team at Rinck. They are professionals. They are listeners. They are good people who always try to do their very best for our clients. When we say “Rinck responds,” it is the AE most critically responding. The responsive of the Rinck Account Team is among the best in the business.