Client Servicing. Often a thankless job. At times the road with a dead-end. The cause of burn-out and makes many jump from the agency to the client side.
Like many others I started my advertising career as a client servicing executive. I think its one of the most exciting jobs where you get to know the business of so many different products & services. Its truly a learning experience and I am glad that I made the switch many years back.
After spending close to 6 years in the role, I look back and see what I have learned on the job. Activities which I should have done more. Roles I should have taken on more seriously.
I share my thoughts to make client servicing a role more powerful than just ensuring that the meeting room is ready and facilitated with tea/coffee for those big client meetings.
Know Your Brand and Beyond
Often when we work for a brand’s communication needs we get too focused on our JOB LIST. The idea is to go beyond. If your agency handles only the ATL work find out what the brand is doing as part of their BTL, digital and more. If possible buy/use your client’s products. Experience them first hand.
Keep an Eye on Competition
Do you know what your client’s competition is doing? What’s their best selling product? Is their customer support any match to your client’s? Keep yourself updated. Be aware and alert your client when you spot something of interest. Will earn you brownie points.
Understand the Industry
As a client servicing person your responsible for the client’s business both in helping them sell their products and also help the agency in billing more work from the client. And this cannot be accomplished if you are not aware of the category in which your client operates. What are the factors which are impacting sales? Are their new customer segments which your client should be tapping into?
Make Love Not War
Creatives & Client Servicing is a combination always setting off fires. But you can make a difference. Spend time, make friends, make partners. Understand their job process. Facilitate them with information which can spark off a better idea. Don’t PUT IN a brief. Work WITH THEM.
Be a Catalyst
GIGO – Garbage In Garbage Out. Don’t brief your team what was briefed to you by the client. Add your value, sketch your idea – let the creatives laugh. But if you can think of something silly, they gotta do better. Set expectations for yourself and in a way for the creative teams.
This applies both externally and internally. Meet people at the client office beyond just the marketing team. Have you interacted with the sales team – the people on the ground? What do they think about the brand? What are the challenges? Have you ever visited your client’s factory? Do you know how the product is manufactured? Meet people, know their work, improve your knowledge. Do field trips. See how your client displays their products, how does their store look and feel.
Client servicing does not mean only briefing the internal teams. Meet your colleagues in media. Ask them what all that GRPs and TRPs mean? What goes into making an effective media plan? Planners – the thinkers! Join them on research trips. Observe their insight picking skills.
The role of a client servicing is demanding. Agency heads want more billing. Creative teams want more time, quick approvals and minimal changes. Clients want the work yesterday. And your job is to get the work done and ship it out. Which calls for super powers and smart thinking. Get aggressive. Be demanding. Ask clients for information. Set down expectations without which work maybe hampered. Give creative teams a reality check. You are here to produce marketing communication to sell products NOT art.
Be humane. Be a consumer.
Finally, think of a marketing idea which you will buy into. Does your work excite you? Does it trigger you enough to go out buy the product? Remember what David Ogilvy said – The consumer is not a moron, she is your wife.
I really can’t comment on the industry trends but from what is there to be seen; the role of client servicing is minimizing and some new agency models don’t even have those job profiles as part of their team structures. But while you are on the job, I say pick up the skills, learn a lot and make the most of the opportunities coming your way.