Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Client Courtships

Client service is a hilarious job. Sure, account directors, supervisors and friends offer strategic direction, diligently manage projects and maintain client budgets. But their primary role is to do everything possible to please their clients. As a result, client relationships become easily comparable to dating or romantic relationships.

Allow me to illustrate. Below are vignettes that might occur in an ordinary day in client service, only inner monologues shall begin with “Dear Diary.”

Budding Relationship
Dear Diary – I feel really energized after grabbing lunch with [client name]. There are so many possibilities and we could really do great things together. Plus, I can’t wait to add him to my book and flash him in front of my friends - It will be great for my reputation! Maybe I can find a way to get an invitation to that function he’ll be at next week…It would be a good excuse to see him again.

Phone call: “Hey, [client name]! It was so great to take time out and meet you for lunch yesterday. I am really excited about the great conversation we had – It feels like we’re really aligned. So, I’m calling because the funniest thing happened. I just found out I will actually be at the same function next week – What a coincidence! If you’re up for it, we should grab a few drinks afterwards! My treat.

Trouble in Paradise
Dear Diary: I hope [client name] is in a good mood today. He’s seemed agitated lately and I don’t know why…I hope it’s not something I did. I’m sure it’s probably not, but maybe I should just call him and ask. But what if it IS me?

Phone call: “[Over-earnest] Good morning – Happy Monday! Listen…I just wanted to check in and see how things are going. Lately, we’ve been so busy that conversations have become shorter and more sparse.  I just want to make sure that you’re getting everything you need from me.  I just think it’s so important for our relationship that we communicate effectively. I want you to know that I am here for you whenever you need me.

On the Rocks
Dear Diary – I’m so sick of fighting about money. He was so mean to me yesterday...almost abusive, and threatened to cut me off entirely! What a jerk. I know that we’re on a budget, but he just has to understand that not everything can be as black and white as he wants it to be.  I just am amazed that he thinks I’m spending so haphazardly. I’m certainly not asking him to splurge, but I refuse to show up with trash – It reflects on me, after all. I have standards.

Phone call: “Hello, [client name].  I’d like to take a few minutes and talk about what happened yesterday. I very much understand that we’re working from a tight budget, and I think it’s healthy for us to talk about it. But, I think would be best if we had sensitive financial conversations in more discreet settings.  I didn’t appreciate you tone yesterday or the way you were aggressive towards me in front of the group. That won’t help us solve anything

I could go on, but I believe I've proved my point. For an alternative perspective on agency-client relationships, check out this video:

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