Client Service: Despite Popular Belief, It’s Not About Being a Yes Person

mm
  • June 2, 2015
  • Kris Johnston

Client service can be, at times, a complicated business, especially when in a field that is ingrained in creativity and ideas. X + Y does not always equal Z in PR – it’s continuously evolving and can change at the drop of a hat. It’s because of this, our ideas combined with our client service capabilities, that set us apart from other agencies in the industry.

This week marks my three-month anniversary at INK and one of the key things I’ve learned so far is that INK values client service above everything else. If we aren’t meeting the needs of our clients and going the extra mile, we aren’t being successful as a team.

Within my first few weeks here, I heard an analogy that put it in perspective. Think about a restaurant – take my personal favorite, Uchi. Every time I go to Uchi, I marvel at how every single one of their workers are attentive, genuinely friendly, and provide an exceptional level of service. It’s an instantly warm environment and because of this level of attention, I always want to go back. When you go to a restaurant like this, compared to perhaps chain restaurants like Chili’s, you are paying for that extraordinary level of service. Client service in PR is no different. Businesses choose agencies not only based on the creative ideas they bring to the table, but also what level of service they anticipate receiving. Clients come to agencies like INK because they know we’ll go above and beyond – they know we’ll do everything in our power to meet their business needs, and they’ll enjoy working with us along the way.

However, there is a fine balance to be had in client service – we don’t say “yes” without thinking about it. I’ve been in tech PR for a while now and can say from personal experience it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish when to push back. We aren’t simply order takers. Clients come to us for an outside, third party perspective and if we just say yes, we aren’t doing them, or ourselves, justice.

Here are some things I try to remember regarding how and when to say yes…or no – or our personal favorite, “yes, and…”.

  1. Trust Your Gut. We are the experts. Businesses are looking for valuable and sound insight and that’s why they bring us in. Do your research, have valid claims and reasoning to back up your opinions and go with it.
  2. That’s What Teams are For. We are structured in teams because three minds are always better than one. Fall back on your team early and often for altering perspectives to make sure you’re thinking about every possible solution, angle, etc.
  3. Keep the Client’s Best Interest at Heart. Are you aligning decisions back to their business goals? Every decision should map back to the bigger picture strategy and push the program – and the business – forward. If the task or idea in question doesn’t, maybe nix it.
  4. Know When to Give it a Rest. Of course, there is a fine line. We are here to provide thoughtful advice and differing perspectives, but at the end of the day, the business belongs to the client, not us. You can only push so much to expand outside their boundary of comfort. In short, pushing back all the time is probably not the best approach.
  5. Don’t Give Up. Just because an idea was shot down, it doesn’t mean we can stop pushing the boundaries. If you fail, try again. Push organizations to do really creative, bold things – that’s when true game-changing impact can happen.