MIX AND MINGLE
Meeting and exceeding expectations of client service is a constant challenge in comms. But, asks purpose-led consultancy Cohesive, how can service delivery be more than an empty promise?
Joe Doyle, group marketing director, KYOCERA Document Solutions UK
Being honest goes a really long way with me. I’d expect to have confidence that you’ll deliver what you’ve promised, but it goes further than that. I want to be able to trust that an agency will have our best interests at heart. Doing the right thing by us, whether it’s using our budget in the most cost effective way, or representing us professionally in their dealings with journalists, is crucial.
Honesty can also play an important role when things haven’t gone as well as we’d hoped. Delivering bad news quickly and armed with solutions can certainly soften the blow when service delivery standards haven’t perhaps been met. I think that an agency’s process when client service standards are not met is just as important as setting these in the first instance.
I value an agency that challenges the norm, delivering results which are different and coming up with fresh and new ideas that other people aren’t doing. I don’t want to think that these qualities would be stifled by a pre-agreed list of behaviours and deliverables. Surprise and delight should never be under-valued as client service commitments.
Finally, service delivery is about people, so invest in me and my business. Enthusiasm and a feeling that you’re on our side will lead to a long and fruitful relationship. Remember that feeling when you’ve been served in a restaurant by a waiter or waitress who would clearly rather be anywhere else? Don’t be that person. Chances are I’ll be much more forgiving when standards aren’t met if I see that you care about me and my business.
Darshna Kamani, communications director, EMEA, Barracuda Networks
There’s always a danger that client service becomes a bit of a tick box exercise. Have they responded to me in the time they said they would? Are their written materials free of spelling and grammatical errors? Do they tell me about coverage before I find it myself? Whilst those things do have their place, I believe that strategic counselling holds much more value.
Give me an agency that regularly displays an ability to integrate itself into the broader marketing team, thinking beyond the comms function, and I’ll certainly cut it some slack when it comes to the day-to-day service delivery.
I think that service delivery commitments tell you a lot about the agency you’re working with, and what you’re likely to get out of that relationship. It’s more often than not the things that are most difficult to quantify which are the true indicators of a great relationship and a culture of client service. How can my agency promise me passion? It’s either there or it isn’t. An agency with purpose and drive would, I imagine, deliver a service that demonstrates this in everything they do for me.
I’m not too proud to say that I don’t have all the answers, so agencies shouldn’t be nervous to include aspects of education in their client service commitment. I’d trust my agency to educate me on what works and doesn’t work in comms, based on their knowledge of the industry and market. Similarly to keeping me informed of journalists who are on the move. Show me that you know me, my business and our industry.
Finally, any agency and client relationship should be a partnership, so why not involve me in the process of agreeing your client service commitments? Every client is different, with different goals and different needs. Show you care about me by personalising the client service process to what you know I’ll value.