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Client service – a dying art?

Whether you’re a media agency, creative agency, research agency, pr agency, digital agency, social media agency, search agency (my goodness, even without being comprehensive, that’s quite a list – who’d be a client these days?!) or a media owner for that matter (oh so controversial I know but I’m including Google And Facebook here), the reason you exist is because you have clients. And if you have clients, your job is to service those clients regardless of what expertise it is you offer – surely?

By client service, I don’t mean processes, systems, data analysis, data management, strategic planning, research projects, insight analysis, buying rates or algorithms, I mean treating your clients as people, as individuals – listening to them; speaking to them; understanding their character; attuned to their nuances; appreciative of their foibles. More importantly, using all of this intelligence to know how to get those clients to appreciate you.

My experience these days though is that it’s rarely the case!

Obviously, I understand there’s a voracious desire to automate everything, whether that be Artificial Intelligence, Chatbots, Internet of Things, Programmatic, VR etc., because it’s more cost-efficient and allegedly more effective. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an apologist for a more binary lifestyle but it might be worthwhile remembering your client is still a person whose heart is rarely won by technology. And treating them as such is the difference when delivering great client service.

These days it’s true that human-to-human interaction – I believe they used to call it a conversation! – has become increasingly more difficult to maintain when confronted with our always-connected, immediate demand, attention-deficit digital culture. Throw in the all-pervading influence of Social Media – I do appreciate the ultimate irony in spending your time liking, following, posting, trolling or whatever else is actually the antithesis of being genuinely sociable – it’s no wonder that actually talking to someone is more a rarity than ever.

Oh and this doesn’t just apply to clients. Don’t brands work on the basis of people buying {into} them? – not machines, real people (as Charlie Chaplin’s Great Dictator would attest)! But that’s a whole other topic for another day. Nonetheless, aren’t we in danger of forgetting that, regardless of the client, brand or product, the end user is still a human being?

When was the last time you spontaneously called one of your clients (or God forbid, popped in for a coffee unannounced)? : to ask them how they are; whether their business is performing; what challenges they face this week/month/year; what they think of the service you’re providing; how you can help or just what their plans are for the weekend?

Go on, give it a try. I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy it, your client will be surprised and delighted and you’ll probably learn something, too. I’m also absolutely sure your service level assessment score will just have improved!

Finally, given it’s that time of year and on a lighter note, two tips for 2019 : listen to Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats and watch The Favourite. Both will make your world a better place.

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