The role of client services encompasses many different things in an agency. Join Chelsea and James as they discuss how our client services team works.
Podcast Client Services
In this episode, we’re going to be chatting about the role of Client Services in an agency.
Hello, and welcome to this episode of so what’s up, I’m with James today. And we’re going to be chatting about client services and the role it plays in the agency. And we have a team here of Mike James rich Morgan, and sometimes myself as well, I dabble in a bit of the client services duties here. So we’re going to just chat about what the role entails and what you what you can expect from us.
Yeah, so Client Services covers a lot of things. Fundamentally, it’s the the communication line between the agency and the client. Some agencies handle it differently. And they put sort of small teams together. Some of them assign clients to specific account managers. I’ve seen it always really the way that we tend to run it here at So marketing is that we’ll give a particular client to a particular named Person internally and have a backup person, then if that person’s not around the idea, then that account manager internally then knows everything about that client remembers previous conversations, and is a relationship that they can form together. And I think really, the fundamental part of the job is that how how that client account manager forms a good relationship with that particular client. So obviously, some people aren’t compatible with others. So it’s good to have variety in terms of who you’ve got in the agency, they can work with different types of clients. And I think it’s really about, you know, who’s best to form the most productive relationship of both parties.
Yeah, and I guess it changes as well with like, the type of services. So what myself and Mike have been doing quite a bit as with the ongoing marketing services that we’re heading up at the moment, I will take the lead on those and explain it with the client do a lot of the liaison and then any of the more technical projects like website builds, website design, anything like that Mike takes over, because it just lines with our natural strengths. Really,
yeah, there’s always that technical bias. I mean, for example, I tend to pick up account management work for some of our bigger e commerce clients, just because my background in web design, development and sort of he calm lends itself that way. And everyone sort of runs the account slightly differently as well. So obviously, whilst we have like a procedure internally of how to deal with things, but work on, it is fundamentally down to the relationship between the two, I mean, to give you an idea that I run my clients, as I try and try to have a weekly meeting with him over phone, Team zoom, whatever the technology is, just to go over any snags or issues that have come up in the week forward plan over what they’re looking to do over the next three to six months. And then that gives us all sort of a steady workflow to work through. And this might be jobs that they’re not ready to do yet. But it just could be some ideas that either, you know, we as the agency are throwing at the client or the clients thought about themselves, and they’re just looking for costings, or some sort of conversation around is something feasible or not. And that way, we can then offer a proactive relationship with that client. You know, the other hand, you’ve got clients who maybe want to be a bit more hands off and turn to that amount of regularity, who just want to be able to come to come to the agency whenever they need something, and be on a reactive basis. So we pick up clients from all those different ways of working really, and it depends on obviously, the relationship with the client, and what internal staff that that client have anyway. So typically, yeah, from our point of view, we deal with the marketing manager level employees at a business, who would be the, let’s say, the doing members of staff who have got actions to undertake need agency support to do that. And yeah, and then they can pass that up on the chain to their, whoever they need to report to. But then without, that’s the person we then tend to form that relationship with.
Yeah, and a lot of other people as well, that I’ve been dealing with have been kind of marketing manager level, but maybe they’re a marketing team of one. And they’ve never really had to set strategies before or anything like that. They don’t really know what digital services would best suit them. So we’ve been doing a lot of work around strategy of some of those clients and how they can make the most of the services that one we offer, but also as well, like the, the services out there that they could potentially learn and do themselves, like some of the Google ones or paid social
networks, right. Again, we just try to support the client and whatever their own goals are. So whether it is giving them some advice on teaching them how to do something for the future. We’re their agency partner, therefore they come to us for this help. I think one of the big challenges really for agency account management and Client Services is managing timescales and expectations. So most commonly EFA clients booking working with those Yeah, the first question is, when can they have it done? And obviously, the account manager needs to be aware of other work going on in the business at the time, when can that be scheduled in? And then is that an appropriate timescale for that client to work to? Then obviously, from our end, the agency, we have to do do everything we can to try and deliver that particular timescale, which obviously, sometimes it’s quite challenging depending on when they want that done. So yes, often same. client will come to us who wants a piece of work booking in, they want to by the end of that week, for example, and then we have to look at our projects and see what we can move around to accommodate that. And so again, that was really sort of the skill, let’s say, of the client services role, which is to just manage expectations, make sure that people are realistic about what they can get, and when, and just being really honest with the client and say, if we can’t do it that time, we can’t do it in that time. Yeah. Or there’s something else already being worked on. So they’re gonna have to wait. And I think that’s where having that good relationship formed allows you to have that frank and open conversation.
Yeah, I think I sorry, one of these like Venn diagrams the other day, and it was like two circles overlapping. And one of the circles was like, titled, what clients want, and the other one was titled and what creatives think should happen, and then the overlapping bit in the middle was client services. And it just rang so true to me, because I guess sometimes when you’re working with, so the role of Client Services, you have to be quite commercially minded to be able to kind of deal with all the requests that you’re doing at a cost effective level for the agency, but also to keep costs down for your clients and to make sure that those timescales are adhered to. But when you’re working, sometimes with creatives, or people that are technical and don’t really understand like the commercial aspect of the role, it can be quite difficult to align the two of them sometimes. So having that communication both internally with the team, and externally with the client is crucial.
No 100% Any say, communication is the job, you know, everyone in in the client services job, it’s nice to be able to communicate verbally written, Be available. And you know, there is always the element of pushback. So, you know, a creative might want to do one thing, and the client might want to do another and you’ve got to come to a compromise in the middle. And that’s the job of Client Services. These things can be made easier, really, from a client point of view. It’s almost a skill that and as well to be able to deal with an agency. Yeah, it’s challenging for a marketing manager to sometimes communicate a brief in a way that the agency could just pick it up immediately and take it off and do something with it. So actually, some work sometimes needs to go into how to write briefs for agencies, what we’re looking for, just from our point of view, one of the most simple things that we ask for is what things do you like and not like? So if we’re briefing in and you create a project, and the client sort of says, Well, I haven’t really got a brief in mind, I don’t, I don’t know what I’d like until I see it. I mean, for us that sort of big alarm bells. And it could lead to something go round around in circles. And obviously, that can then push the cost up to the client. Where is it, the client came to us saying, Okay, I’ve got this requirement for a piece of work. In the past, I’ve really not like this kind of thing from a design point of view, or here’s a competitor or another website, or an industry that I really like, or I like this bit of this. And it’s really helpful, because it means that we can design those elements in from the outset, without having to sort of stop at it and give her an example website or example piece of design work that the client is just not going to like, they have to start again. So the clear of the client is with their account manager, in terms of what it is they do and don’t like, really makes projects move a lot quicker. And the other big thing is getting organised with content. So I mean, we’re sort of referring to this really in the context of website builders, but content is always the biggest sticking points within websites. You know, over the 20 years, I’ve been building websites, nearly every site has been waiting for content from the client at some point. So yeah, it’s good to sort of get get get that worked on early on, make sure that your account manager who’s managing the project understands where the contents coming from. It hasn’t been labelled correctly, or is it in a really obscurely named document that you find again? Yeah, there’s there’s lots of little things like, you know, photos or supply all the photos named as they came off the digital camera, or they’ve been renamed for what they are, yeah, that that little bit of time client and really helps save confusion and sort of miss understanding from the agency side when they get this dance over to them. So yeah, I think there’s quite a lot that people can do to make the relationship run better and projects run more smoothly. But I think on the whole this should be led by the ACA account manager sort of pushing the client to To be organised and think about what they might need ahead of time.
Yeah, definitely second that as well with some of the ongoing marketing services now that we’re recently launching out, like the content marketing, where we’re creating content for clients and doing the SEO work and stuff for them. And the kind of relationships that we’ve got are quite proactive, and we’re doing the research and but ultimately, any content that we create before it can be scheduled and put out, it has to be approved by the client. So a lot of my work goes into making sure that clients stick to the deadlines as well, they give us approval before the posts can go out. Otherwise, we can’t meet the commitment, our end. And it’s always kind of disappointing when that doesn’t happen. But clients just have to be kind of on on kind of like, yeah, I guess I kind of just have to be on it as much as us really so that it doesn’t slip those tight deadlines behind schedule.
That’s right, I think of a client’s committing to work, especially things that are regular, you know, X number of things a month, this has got to happen every couple of weeks, or whatever the frequency is, it’s as much on the client is on the agency to make sure that that information is provided in the timescales agreed, I think, you know, it’s sometimes difficult for the agency to spend more more time chasing the client than doing the work. And it’s not great business for either party. So I think you know, sometimes an element of organisation with the clients really helpful to do that. And obviously, like you refer to hear, we’ve just sort of enhanced the digital marketing team to give us some additional capacity in terms of delivering work to clients, and be able to provide that same customer service level that we’re looking to do.
Yeah, and I think as well with client services, and just being organised in general, I think client services can encompass so many roles. We know agencies that have got designated project managers and account managers, and they split it differently, have one person focusing on relationship building, and one person focusing on making sure that the workflow actually goes through on time. That’s not something we do here and everyone that kind of works with the projects, and the clients are expected to really do both, it’s just much more effective to have that one person take accountability for the accounts that they manage. Yeah, that’s
right. And I think you that that’s really the difference between the sort of the very larger agencies and the smaller agencies like ourselves, you know, a bigger agency would potentially have a lot of front of house people in sort of in the middle of the project, handling lots of communication, organising things, but at the end of the day, someone’s paying for that, and it’s always the client. So you know, what you think we strike a good balance between having, you know, the account managers and project managers, including myself, myself, Mike, yourself, they know what we’re doing in terms of our project. But without layers and layers of admin staff to pay for that, essentially, it just sort of an overhead to the business and thus then get passed on to the clients cost. So we found that it’s worked quite well for us our particular model over the last 15 years. So yeah, something we’re looking to continue. But yeah, we’re always interested in hearing any way we can improve. So yeah, if there’s a way that we can work specifically with a client differently to another one, then we’re quite happy to adapt to that. So yeah, quite often, the client, one approach or one client might not work with another one. So we have to adapt how we. So we deal with our client in terms of communication, frequency of communication, even method of it sometimes, yeah, some clients don’t do video calls, some new phone calls. So we just have to adapt really, and be flexible based on who we’re dealing with.
Even down to the project management style, I guess some clients prefer prefer like the waterfall method where everything is just staged out completely over clients prefer to go through like design scrums, and get the Sprint’s done and then have everything signed off at the end of each one, it just depends on how that client works. Some clients I’ve seen some of the briefs come through recently are actually starting to put down how they work now, and how they expect the agency to work with them, which is always good as well, because the more clear you can be about how you expect the relationship to work, the kind of like service level agreement and how you want the communications to go. It just makes it so much easier.
Yeah, that’s right. And again, it’s just being flexible with the client based on what they want. And it’s actually quite good when they start to specify upfront how they want to work, because we can start to plan in that workflow for our sort of studio time. For example, if we know we’re working in a two week design sprint for a client, we can sort of factor that time in, they know that we’re going to need to do something else for potentially another two weeks. Well, that client sort of works goes away and looks at feedback before they come back to us. So the more information we get, the better really.
Yeah, and I think as well with client services is going to be something that’s just flexible for everyone. So if you do have any ideas on how we can help cater to you a little bit more, just get in touch with us at Hello at so marketing.com