Support, quality and results are fundamental to the way we do business. We have a number of in-house technical teams specialising in various digital marketing disciplines, but it is our balance of technical capability combined with exceptional client support that really makes the difference.
Our client services team are the first port of call for clients, on hand to guide them through their strategy every step of the way. We talked to Account Director, Jen Milne, Account Manager, Beth Brogden and Senior Account Manager, Antonella Tamburello, to shed light on how they work with and support clients, recognising opportunities for growth and steering them towards achieving those all-important objectives.
How do you work with and support your clients?
Jen: We are always on hand. For ad hoc communication, the client can email us, text us, call us and we have that availability. We’re always there to support and answer any questions they have on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. The technical teams often don’t have the same flexibility in terms of being at the end of a phone all the time. So, from a communication point of view, we are the first point of contact for clients. But that doesn’t mean it has to be a scheduled call, it’s literally whenever they need us. We do a good job of making our clients very aware of that. At the end of every call, you can always hear us saying things like, “If you need anything else, please just get in touch with me.” It’s never seen as them bombarding us.
Antonella: It’s a combination of ad hoc availability whenever they need it, as well as the formal review catchups. For example, for PPC, we have it written into the contract that we have biweekly calls and for SEO, we have a minimum monthly meeting to review performance. That combination of formal structuring as well as the ad hoc communication works really well.
Are there any examples of you going the extra mile?
Antonella: Knowing my client’s KPIs and goals means we’ll always be looking to maximise areas for growth. I’m constantly in Analytics, establishing trends and asking why? Our clients appreciate us bringing them new opportunities and ideas and the only way we can effectively do that is to go into their account to question the data and present them with new areas of focus to help drive the overall strategy. Additionally, a big thing for us is our bespoke reporting. Every month we present clients with the latest industry updates alongside their performance review so we’re always looking at the big picture.
Jen: Also, it’s little things like if a client has a board meeting in two days and they want their latest rankings, we would never say you have to wait until your next report. We can be quite flexible and pull together the data which ultimately makes them look good in front of the board, which is going to benefit them in the long run. When a client normally asks something, we’re good at getting them an answer – I like to think that we don’t leave any question unanswered.
Beth: We’re able to cater to individual preferences too. I have clients who receive a weekly performance update instead of monthly, but we also have a monthly meeting and a monthly report call as that level of communication is what suits their business best. Whereas for some of my other clients, we just have one monthly report call for SEO and that’s all they need. It’s about whatever the client needs really – if they need more, we can give them more.
How does the knowledge of the client services team support our clients?
Jen: We do have to rely on the technical team for certain elements that are too technical, but actually, the broader understanding of the client, the strategical focus, the actions that need implementing and the business updates, we all hold that knowledge. And if we have something that’s too technical for us to address, then we can get the answer from the technical account manager. It puts us in a good position and keeps the communication going too.
Beth: Jen actually mentioned a really positive factor on one of our client calls recently; we’re a big agency but we have a small agency mentality. There are lots of people involved in each account, but actually, it’s just the account manager and technical account manager that you really communicate with. Everyone else is there for support, for production and for more eyes on the account.
Jen: Sometimes, clients get a bit scared that we are such a large agency. We are big and we are connected, and we do have lots of different moving parts. But actually, our mentality regarding clients is small. For example, our CEO, Dennis, sits in our weekly ADS meeting and goes through client accounts with our senior management team. I think that gives us a personal touch advantage by assuring our clients the CEO has eyes on their account too. For clients to know that, it makes them feel well looked after, and that they’re not just a number in a massive pool of others.
Antonella: I’d also really highlight the ADS process because I think that’s why our retention rates are so high. We have the central account management team and the technical account management team. But the fact that you have the senior management team reviewing accounts in detail too gives the client further confidence that our approach is right, our strategy is right, and everything’s moving in the right direction.
Tell me more about the Clients Services team and how you’re structured…
Antonella: Basically, we have a pod system featuring an account director, an account manager and an account executive. All of the clients in that pod are under the account director’s remit. So, it ensures continual learning, continual mentoring and support.
Jen: The escalation process is really important as well. Every client has a dedicated account manager, but they also get an Account Director and there’s a head of client services which means different escalation points. It ensures consistency, so if anyone’s on annual leave, clients know their account is not going to be left with no commercial contact. You’ve always got someone there.
Actually, as a team, we catch up every morning and you get used to hearing about other account manager’s clients. So, if someone’s client happens to call one of us, I’m sure we’d be able to know at least a little bit about their account, which is a nice touch and you don’t really get that with any other agency.
How do you continue developing a client’s strategy based on their objectives?
Antonella: We’ll ask them what their priorities are such as what products or services provide them with better margins or generate the most leads. That’s really important for us to get a better understanding of their business. Then we’ll go away, do our own keyword research, our own analysis, and present the opportunity available for their priority areas, as well as other areas their business provides. We give them the whole picture and put all recommendations forward, but while always considering their objectives too.
Jen: As account managers, we don’t want to maintain a client’s account, we want to grow them and see them make more money. We’re quite open with clients by saying, we get targeted on the performance. So, it’s actually in our best interests for the campaign to perform because our necks on the line if it doesn’t.
We also have access to different tools like our competitor analysis tool which helps us understand opportunity within the market, competitiveness and potential. It’s about constantly using these tools, looking at what’s going on in their industry and where we can better their campaigns. This is a huge part of our value – it’s more insight, opportunity and potential for growth.
In current circumstances, it’s not quite business as normal. How have your processes developed and has it changed how we work with people?
Jen: The agency has been great at allowing a certain element of flexibility with campaigns. Being proactive and changing tactics during this period is crucial. For example, if we have a client who was targeting a specific area such as travel, we say, let’s use this time to look at market trends, what your competitors are doing and get you in the best place possible for when the market is coming back.
I guess just being quite agile and coming up with fresh ideas and sharing industry updates keeps us on our toes, making sure we’re sending over anything that’s insightful. I think it’s comforting for them to know that we’re all over it and that we’re constantly looking at changes within their world.
Beth: We’ve had to change a couple of digital PR strategies based on the media landscape because the campaigns wouldn’t have really work based on what was happening. By being flexible around the ideas we had previously discussed and signed off helps us maintain results. We’re willing to flex depending on what’s changing in the landscape.
Do you feel your relationships with clients have strengthened?
Jen: I think so. When life was normal, I spent a lot of time driving or on the tube and you couldn’t always answer your phone, or you were in a meeting. Now, you can pretty much answer them immediately. Or if you’re in a meeting, you can send them a message on Teams to let them know you’ll respond afterwards.
My response rate has also improved. I think clients have been going through a challenging time and need some answers and a little bit of comfort. We can supply that reassurance, not only with our personalities, but with the data on top of it that says, don’t worry, the market is going to come back.
Beth: Clients are way more available to just have a chat with if you need to. I also think people have relaxed more personally and chat to us more about lockdown and what they’ve been up to which helps cement relationships.
How has onboarding new clients been in lockdown?
Beth: It’s actually been quite normal. I’ve even seen the client more than I would usually in the first month of production and during the set-up period thanks to video calls.
Antonella: Teams has become the new phone call. Whereas before you’d have an audio call, it’s now a face to face so you can build that relationship from the start, which is really nice.
I don’t think the onboarding process has changed necessarily. But essentially, it’s an opportunity for us to meet our new client and to establish what the KPIs are for the remainder of the campaign, which is so important. This means, when we come to that performance review or when we start doing the work, we have that goal in our mind.
Jen: Our onboarding process is effective because it makes the client feel well looked after from day one. We have a genuine interest in their account and our onboarding process helps to cement the relationship.
What advice would you give to clients on creating a positive relationship with their agency?
Antonella: Just be honest from the off. Tell us your pressure points. Tell us your challenges, because we’re here to mitigate those risks and to build a successful campaign.
Jen: We’d rather know if you’re not happy sooner so we can sort it out. And trust us as well. There are so many experts within the agency, and we have lots of experience which will only work to benefit the client.
Collaboration between our teams and our clients underpins the winning partnerships we have formed. Just like the rest of the client services team, Jen, Beth and Antonella are dedicated to their clients, skilled and experienced at nurturing accounts and guiding strategies to see results. If you want to find out more about our way of working and how our account managers could support you in reaching your objectives, contact us today.