Tag: Client Service
I am often asked by my legions of fans – ahem, interns – what I believe is the most important aspect of client service. My first thoughts are typically stamina or humility. However, once my momentary emotional tide passes, I always find myself repeating an elevator speech about the necessity to balance expectations – those of your internal team as well as the client. That belief is grounded by the following three points of wisdom:
Communication Is Key
A project manager acts as a liaison between what the Client wants and how the Creative team understands – and plans to achieve – the request. Before the wheels start turning (and hours start to rack up), it’s always a good idea to take a step back, recap the request at hand and make sure the Client is in agreement with the understood approach before the creative work begins. Not only will the Client appreciate the thoroughness of the follow-up, but you will have established an opportunity to set the expectations for both sides. Plus, you’ll be halfway done with your internal paperwork! Never underestimate the power of effective communication. It is the primary factor that can lead to a project’s success or failure.
Back in the days before smartphones and tablets and Twitter (oh my), I would depend on the good old fashioned printed newspaper for much of my daily dose of current events. One of the columns I used to frequently give a skim for a little entertainment was Dear Abby. For more than a half-century, she has been providing “uncommon common sense” advice. In reading Ms. Abigail’s posts, a somewhat common theme is that through a little better listening, relationships could be built a lot stronger.
The same holds true when it comes to the client/agency relationship. Long-term relationships in this industry seem quite rare; in fact, Forbes reports the average to be just 3 years, which is down from 8.5 years as experienced in the 1980s*. Relationships come to a close for a variety of reasons, but at the root is often an issue with listening and understanding between the two parties. From an agency perspective, the client is depending on you to serve as its voice to the target audience. And like a game of whisper down the lane at a rock concert, if the agency is unable to listen carefully to understand the client and the client’s core communication objectives, the message will not properly reach the final target. The same holds true if the client is unwilling to listen and trust in the agency’s expertise.
Congratulations! You’ve won a new account! Now comes the hard part – ensuring a successful onboarding process so that you make a good first impression and set the tone for a long and mutually beneficial relationship with your new client.
At Domus, the first step actually takes place before we are awarded an account. During the process when we are pitching a new account, we take every opportunity offered by the prospect to interact, so when we are fortunate enough to win a new account, the basis for a relationship has been started. By design, Domus is a collaborative company that believes in leveraging collective strengths in order to provide our clients with the very best solution and maximum return on investment.
In the good old days (and I’m really dating myself here), a full-color one-page print ad required a minimum of two weeks just for production – from typesetting to trimming with an X-acto™ knife to mounting and pasting onto a board to 4/c film separation with real film! This took much, much longer for a multi-page brochure. And God help us if we needed to make a change.
Today’s rapidly shifting marketing and media landscape means that client and agency professionals must be more integrated than ever before. We can no longer think of ourselves as marketing managers, account managers, media planners, art directors, copywriters or research managers. We are all buyers, sellers and enablers of media and must work together to achieve a successful campaign.
Here is what I have recently witnessed within the industry. The lines between public relations and social media are blurring. Account managers need to be well-versed in analyzing technical data, interpreting those results and translating those results into strategic recommendations. Media professionals need to understand the brand strategy and all of the media options available today including social, online and mobile campaigns as well as established channels like broadcast and print. Likewise, creative and production teams are learning new technology and software programs in order to keep pace as well as how to translate TV or print concepts to online and mobile. And everyone needs to have in-depth expertise within a client’s business.
Communications and media as we know them are evolving at a rapid pace. The manner in which we communicate and what is considered “media” is ever-changing. I remember public relations in the era of blast fax distribution and the pre-World Wide Web era. I realize that I’m dating myself by making these statements, but the fact remains: those of us in public relations are ever-challenged to keep abreast of “new” media and to discover ways in which to use it to our – and our employers’/clients’ – best advantage.
Take social media, for example. Consumers are increasingly relying upon social media for their information – going to a company’s Facebook page, for example, before visiting a company’s website. And consumers demonstrate their brand preferences (and loyalty) by following and liking their brands of choice on Twitter and Facebook. In fact, a recent Nielsen report states that 53% of active online adult social networkers follow a brand, that social networking and blogging now account for nearly a quarter of total time spent on the Internet and that Americans spend more time on Facebook than they do on any other U.S. website. Pretty compelling statistics…and pretty valid reasons why public relations professionals need to include social media as part of their overall communications tactics.
Naysayers may dismiss these statistics, but I recall a similar conversation about the World Wide Web nearly 20 years ago. Enough said.
But beyond B2C communications lies the evolution of “media.” Media is ever-increasingly an online vehicle as printed media – printed news media, most especially – fades away. Writers and editors rely on social media platforms to magnify their voice and reach in the hope that it will (1) increase their reach and (2) drive traffic back to their articles/website, thereby increasing their readership and the value of their advertising.
Even what we consider “media” sometimes comes into question: are bloggers considered media, for example? In my opinion, creating online content does not a member of the media make; however, those with the forum and the voice may not be afraid to use it. So we as public relations professionals must manage these relationships just as we must consider social media platforms as media relations tools – platforms for engaging with the media and platforms for communicating with our various publics.
Does your company need assistance navigating the evolving world of social media? Do you have the tools necessary to harness the power of social media in order to communicate your messaging in a cohesive and an articulate manner? Domus does! Put our expertise in public relations and social media to work for you. Visit www.domusinc.com today and be an active part of the conversation that’s taking place in the world of social media.
For more on this topic, see “Public Relations in a Social World” posted on COMPREHENSION – PRSA’s blog: http://comprehension.prsa.org/?p=3557.
Amy Whilldin is an Account Director at Domus, Inc., a marketing communications agency based in Philadelphia. For more information, visit http://www.domusinc.com. For new business inquiries, please contact CEO and founder of Domus, Inc. Betty Tuppeny at email@example.com or 215-772-2805.
In the era of Facebook and Twitter, has “engagement” with consumers been redefined as simply social media contact? Communicating effectively in a one-on-one manner with existing customers and the new generation of customers has become even more important in light of the bombardment of digital and traditional advertising messages.
Experiential marketing, especially one-on-one interaction with customers, can create a branded and memorable experience to help strengthen your marketing campaign. This experiential marketing has the ability to appeal to all five senses, giving customers the opportunity to engage personally with your products and your brand. According to a recent online survey of 2,574 consumers ages 13-65, in the top 25 U.S. markets, the results confirm that this increasingly important marketing medium resonates strongly across demographics and product categories. In fact, 72% of 18- to 23-year-old consumers say experiential marketing would make them more receptive to the brand/product advertising; 59% say it would lead to a quicker purchase.
This study also indicated that live marketing experiences were shown to be a valuable way to increase marketing ROI: 75% of consumers say that participating in a live marketing experience would make them more receptive to the product/brand’s advertising; 75% of consumers said they would be extremely likely to tell others after participating in a live marketing event, extending impact through word-of-mouth.
Domus has had great success with live marketing experiences for the Pennsylvania Lottery to help launch its new instant ticket games. Each event utilized a creative overlay that reinforced the traditional advertising program of television, radio, print and outdoor. The theme was brought to life through a state-wide bus tour including live activities with audience participation, street teams, signage and ticket giveaways. Each tour garnered pre- and post-event press coverage as well as a multitude of attendees. The results? Another record-breaking year of ticket sales for the Pennsylvania Lottery!
Joanne Michael is an Executive Vice President at Domus, Inc., a marketing communications agency based in Philadelphia. For more information, visit http://www.domusinc.com. For new business inquiries, please contact CEO and founder of Domus, Inc. Betty Tuppeny at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-772-2805
We work in a fast-paced environment that thrives on creativity and inspiration. At times, it may seem easier and more efficient to bypass established systems in order to get a project completed for a client. However, the core competency of advertising agencies and other creative outlets is not simply the production of creative work. It’s the efficient management of that project which requires the ability to carefully control, document and communicate workflow to deliver the best results. If this cannot be done, even the most creatively successful agency might find itself in a state of chaos. By establishing and adhering to well-established workflow and communication processes, agencies will actually save time in the long run, deliver a better product and satisfy their clients.
Since each client is unique, Domus develops the most appropriate reporting and communications systems to meet their needs. This can include any or all of the following: creative briefs, decision reports, weekly hot lists, weekly status reports, monthly client meetings, quarterly and annual results analysis as well as other customized reports requested by the client. Many of the above reports we are now converting to a digital dashboard that allows our clients easy access to this information at the touch of a button.
We all talk about keeping our clients happy and satisfied, but do we delight them? That may sound like an odd objective but let’s look at the definitions. “Satisfied” is defined as “filled with satisfaction, content.” Whereas “delight” is defined as “a high degree of gratification; also extreme satisfaction.” Given these two definitions, I would prefer to delight my clients rather than simply make them happy. This is particularly important in today’s tough economic climate. Companies that have successfully weathered the economic storm are those that understand that service excellence is a business strategy and recognize that delivering on this strategy is a key differentiator.
According to the recent J. D. Power and Associates Inaugural Cross-Industry Report on Best Practices in Customer Service, during the past decade, average satisfaction scores for service-oriented industries have remained flat, unlike in product-based industries, for which satisfaction has improved steadily. In addition, across all service industries measured by J.D. Power, gaps in satisfaction between the highest- and lowest-performing brands have increased considerably between 2003 and 2010. This is a sad state of affairs for the “service” industry.
Most agencies claim that their number one goal is to ensure that each and every client has a top performing team to deliver the highest quality work, results and client satisfaction. But, can traditionally-structured agencies deliver on this promise when they have a finite set of resources? The Domus business model is client-centric by design, a model that we believe is a smart and efficient alternative to the traditional ad agency. By the term “client-centric” we mean that Domus conforms to a client’s particular account and their specialized needs.
Some clients need technical writing, others need help with media buying, others want efforts devoted specifically to social media – we cater to all of these needs and evolve as the client’s needs and objectives change. By using this approach we’re able to be nimble and move with the client – our clients aren’t locked into a rigid, 12-month plan; as their focus changes – so do we. They move, we move. We believe each client and each project presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities. That’s why we develop customized teams of specialized resources to fulfill each client’s unique needs.