Agencies today face a strange paradox. One of the most common challenges we deal with is that clients often feel reluctant to see account management as a service worth paying for. Yet one of the most commonly cited reasons for changing agencies is poor account management.
So how should agencies ensure clients see the value in account management? The agency-client relationship is still what everyone will point to when quantifying account management’s value. And could anything really be more important for an agency than client relationships? For this reason, at Pull we set very high store on great account management. The clients whom we have the best communication and connection with are also our most productive and fulfilling relationships.
So how can a good Account Manager add value to the relationship, and most importantly add value to work that clients receive from their agency? Great Account Managers will anticipate issues and challenges the client may have before they arise. Their ‘boundary’ role - living somewhere between the client and the agency - should add huge value.
Among all agency staff, a good Account Manager will have the most acute understanding of a client’s actual business challenges, and therefore provide insights that the agency can translate into client value. This means possessing highly developed communication skills. At Pull this doesn’t just mean they can write a good email.
Emails are great for speed and for quick communication, but as we have all experienced, email generated misunderstandings can also be the quickest killer of a good relationship. Because of this our Account Managers are expected to pick up the phone wherever possible. Imagine if all you ever did was to email your partner or children, and never speak to them face to face. Things might just begin to go downhill.
Email gives you no opportunity to read a reaction. Can you really work through a client’s challenges via an email thread? We don’t think so, which is why we believe strongly in regular face-to-face meetings with clients, although we do occasionally feel like we live in a world where this form of communication is falling out of fashion.
So, we will persist with good old-fashioned phone calls and face to face meetings. As a communication agency we know client emails have their place of course, but we also recognise there’s no substitute for understanding our clients and their challenges, exchanging and developing insights and developing business-building ideas through real-time two-way communication – sorry, we mean conversation!