If unattributed statistics are to be believed, 98% of both clients and agencies believe that a trust-based partnership leads to better work. No surprises so far (although I am mildly curious as to what the other 2% believe), and it was reassuring to capture exactly that sentiment during our client services ‘away morning’ earlier this month.
We gathered our entire client services team and headed to Bakesmiths down the road for a morning of discussion and contemplation around what makes a great client relationship.
Actually, really good client relationships under the microscope shouldn’t unearth too much of the unexpected. Where the quality of basic human interaction has historically been the principal measure of success, there has been little room for anomalies.
But in an ever-evolving client/agency landscape, are we now missing a trick if we don’t look further than the core personal qualities that define a good relationship? Should digital transformation, the rise of the in-house capability or additional scrutiny over marketing budgets and ROI lead to a reappraisal of what makes a quality client relationship?
Probably! Certainly, there will be clients who are shifting from a product to a customer-centric mentality and wondering whether they need a new agency with a different set of capabilities to take them on the journey. And at the same time, there will be a large number of execs bemoaning the threat to their margins as agency services become commoditised, and wonder if their client mix is ‘appropriate’.
As part of our client services training refresher session, it was interesting therefore to return to the basics and consider the findings from research undertaken by the MAA and UWE. Interestingly, everything that clients are looking for from their agencies seems to begin with the same letter!
Contact, Care, Context, Content, Charges(?) and Coaching were found to be the staples of a successful relationship – all entered around one central binding premise. Disappointingly, this wasn’t trust, but commitment – we preferred trust.
In the midst of today’s uncertainty, we are constantly re-evaluating those 6 Cs. Sure there are some that might be volume-adjusted in response to changing circumstances – we may want to avoid being so collaborative that we end up as part of the furniture? We may think our clients don’t take enough risk with their content, and we may have to think creatively about what we mean by context – and ensure that we have a shared definition.
When it comes to the inner workings of an agency/client relationship, there’s often some sort of disconnect between what one side believes and the other’s perception. Above all, it’s our job as communicators to minimise any misalignment.
In a world full of technology and a complex marketing landscape, it’s comforting to know that at the centre of it all, is the simplicity of clarity and conversation.
At Six, we pride ourselves in forming lasting relationships with our clients; essentially working as an extension of their marketing and communications teams. Our clients they tell us that Six stands out as a result of our passion, experience and the insight the team provide. We make a virtue of always being accessible and working with transparency and integrity – those core values that help us build that trust!