The Tipping Point for Client Services
When is the best time to invest in a client services team? In the agency realm, is there a ‘tipping point’ to look out for? Or an equation to foresee the value client services will generate? And once you’ve decided to move forward, how is a new team formulated from both a skill and cultural standpoint?
There’s no simple answer to any of those questions, however, various opinions were flowing and sparking a lively discussion around the topic at the most recent BIMA breakfast briefing hosted by our North West arm in Manchester at e3creative. The room of 15 attendees across various professional remits from Creative, Managing and Account Directors to Marketing, Project Planning, Business Development and Recruitment, all agreed client services are directly linked to an agency’s production capabilities in two capacities:
The impact of not having a dedicated client service team often transfers duties onto heads of departments or those outputting work for the account, which distracts craftsmen from their core responsibilities and has the potential to offset timelines.
The first point prompts the concern around who is best placed to report updates back-and-forth to the client. If communication is not a creative’s forte, smaller concerns often escalate and soak up the time of upper management and hamper relationships.
The talk was led by Katy White, Digital Account Director at e3creative, based on her experience of leading client service teams of various sizes over the last decade. With e3creative facing a significant growth period she asked Jake Welsh, e3creative Managing Director, what prompted his decision to prevail client services and he provided a straightforward response: “when we were willing to accept less profit in place of customer experience.”
Katy is in the process of restructuring the integrated agency’s client service offering with a clear divide between the roles of project management and client services. The room echoes that’s step in the right direction with a string of comments along these lines:
“ Sometimes it’s better to have two heads sitting together [project manager and client services] working intermittently liaising with clients playing ‘bad cop and good cop’ with accounts rather than switching responsibilities and wearing two hats.”
“ When it comes to project management, we just want to focus on the task at hand and delivery quality on time. We don’t want to business develop and grow the account or chase invoices. That can be detrimental to our working relationship and, in turn, affect the agreed project scope.”
Further discussion surrounded how to best develop a client service team from both a cultural and skill standpoint and whether psychometric tests are necessary for recruitment. All and all, those in attendance concurred a multidisciplinary team of ‘t-shaped’ or ‘e-shaped’ professionals are always best placed for client-facing roles.
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