A recent article in PR Week regarding the growth of the multi-national agencies and their holding companies makes some pretty powerful statements. The article is really more of a promotion piece to get you to read the upcoming articles they have planned. But one statement in particular is just not sitting well with me:
Using lowly paid account staff churning through accounts that come and go regularly because clients become frustrated with poor service is a common complaint. CCOs are seduced by charismatic leaders who pop up at pitch or review time and occasionally thereafter, but aren’t physically and emotionally connected to the account on a regular basis.
I know that it happens. In the larger agencies (and even some of the mid-size or smaller firms) there are often new business teams that go out and secure the business and implementation teams that are responsible for the development and delivery of the strategic plans. But to assume “lowly paid account staff” is the reason that accounts come and go is unacceptable. There are lots of reasons that accounts change agencies and I am not naïve enough to think that the client teams assigned to the work may be among the reasons. A good client/agency relationship is based on trust and open and honest feedback . And that starts from the very beginning of the relationship – from the minute you walk into the pitch.
Bring your best new business development teams, but also bring the folks that are actually going to be doing the work. Don’t let the CCOs get “seduced” by people that will never have anything more to do with you after you sign the contract. And ask the client on a regular basis if you are delivering to their expectations, is the account team still compatible with the client’s team, what should we/could we be doing different?