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The 4 Things You Didn't Know About Client Service

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"It sounds strange, but despite your job description, you’re NOT there to give your client exactly what they want every time – you’re there to excite them with new ideas, new directions, new possibilities; and that means challenging them from time to time." - Y&R South Africa's Lindsay Leppan.

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The 4 Things You Didn't Know About Client Service

  1. 1. Lindsay Leppan Managing Director at Y&R South Africa THE 4THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT CLIENT SERVICE
  2. 2. Brace yourself! You’re also in Service to Studio, Strategy, Media Planning, DTP, Production Service – EVERYBODY needs a piece of you, not least your Client, who relies on you to be the interface that keeps great work flowing, on time and (hopefully) within budget. You’re in the business of two-way communication – getting an understanding of what your client wants, when they want it and how much they are thinking of paying for it. And then translating that understanding into a crystal clear, easy- to-implement plan of action for the agency, where everyone knows what is required and by when. Then of course, you get to go back and SELL the brilliant results to your client, and revert back, and back again, and again (so, good shoes and a well- developed caffeine addiction are an asset). You’re not an order taker, or an order giver – you’re a facilitator. The essential cog in the client-agency dynamic and that’s a bigger role than taking briefs and status meetings. 1 You’re Not Just in Client Service
  3. 3. 2 This leads on from the above. Your overarching function is to provide clarity and focus – to EVERYONE. Your end of the business isn’t about smoke and mirrors, it’s about extracting and providing relevant information that will help develop creative solutions. Clear, comprehensive briefs, clear comprehensive feedback, all the details on creative reverts, timeframes, strategic and channel objectives – you are the only person in a position to extract the information the agency needs to fulfill our function for your client (and yes, some- times it’s like squeezing chardonnay from granite) and the only person who can give your client the answers that will sell them on our work – “Why is my logo so small?’ “I asked for a blue background.” “Why THAT magazine?” Who, why, what, when, where, how – people are going to ask you these questions at every stage of the process and you HAVE to be able to answer them. For everyone’s sake (So, good shoes, caffeine and an industrial-size Moleskine – go forth and ferret). A huddle of clueless creatives picking sulkily at a half-resolved brief? UGLY. Don’t let this happen. A plaintive client wanting questions answered at 2am? If you value your beauty sleep, give them what they need to know, before they know they need it. Basically, inspiration begins with information. What Happens In Vagueness, Stays In Vagueness
  4. 4. It’s very easy to lose focus on what actually needs to be achieved for your client. Daily agency processes and procedures can distract you or bog you down in a morass of detail (how long is your list of unanswered e-mails RIGHT now?). Of course, they’re important and you’ll get to them later (who needs sleep anyway?) but your key function is keeping the team working your account up to speed with what is required, by whom and by when, and making sure they get there…so you can go back to your client, take all the credit and bask in glory! Besides it’s cool to be able to say, “I’m sorry, can’t do that. I have a 2 o’clock with my client.” And swing out the door, like a BOSS. But having said that…. 3 Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
  5. 5. “But MY client wants…” Just. DON’T, ok? If every client got exactly what they wanted every ad would have a head-sized logo and a photo of “our state-of-the art innovative factory.” It sounds strange, but despite your job description, you’re NOT there to give your client exactly what they want every time – you’re there to excite them with new ideas, new directions, new possibilities; and that means challenging them from time to time. By all means keep the team focused on your client’s objectives, remind them of what your (outstanding and incredibly detailed) brief requires. But be open to the possibility that there might be a different, more exciting or creative way of getting there – and then make sure that you have the information and back-up rationale required to tell your client WHY it’s a better solution. Like I said earlier you’re not an order taker, you’re not a gatekeeper for your client’s expectations. You’re a client service operator for a creative enterprise selling creative communication solutions. Go and sell them. So, great shoes, serious caffeine habit, massive Moleskine and balls of steel! Good luck. - Lindsay Leppan is Managing Director at Y&R South Africa’s Durban office. 4 NO! You’re NOT Your Client’s YES-man!

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