05 Apr 2019
Working within client services requires you to be fully immersed in all aspects of your work, engaging with the entire strategic, creative and scientific process. In this blog, we discuss what it takes to work in a client-facing role.
Client services is misunderstood by almost everyone. Clients think you’re there to do their bidding.
False. Creatives think you’re there to sell their work. Oh no. Planners think you’re there to write up their
workshops. Ha, as if. Writers think you’re there to proof their prose. Nah. You think you’re there to count beans and make the money. But your value is more than financial.
The fact is that as an account handler you will do all of these things, but if you’re doing it right, you’ll be doing so much more.
From the moment an opportunity lands on the doorstep, or even before as you search for the opportunities, and spot them miles off, the client services team are there every step of the way. This consistent and sometimes relentless immersion in work provides a unique opportunity to engage with the entire strategic, creative, and scientific process.
Jack of all trades? Maybe there’s an element of that, but more importantly, you’re running the show, and you need to take responsibility for that. Taking responsibility for the entire process takes guts. The first test of your courage is not being afraid to know better than the client. If they wanted a yesman, they could save a lot of money and talk to themselves. A good client services professional doesn’t take the brief; they interrogate the brief. Hold up a mirror, make the client help you truly understand what their business goals are, and then rewrite the brief that will make it happen for them.
If you allow your agency to answer a bad brief, you won’t get good results, and you can wave goodbye to organic opportunities (those lovely ones that don’t require spending tens of thousands on big scary pitches).
Having defined what you hope to achieve for your client, don’t make the mistake of returning to your
spreadsheets and hoping for the best. You’re not an account handler, you’re a planner, you’re a creative, you’re a strategist, and you’re the client. If you and the team don’t manage to produce a robust, differentiating strategy, beautiful, relevant creative, smart, effective content, and then tell a compelling story to sell it into the client, don’t blame anyone but yourself.
If you miss a deadline, it’s because you didn’t drive the pace; it’s not because the team
didn’t deliver. You’re busy, and you must shoulder a great burden of responsibility. This is a tough job, but it’s also a privilege, because you can make or break an opportunity. On the surface you are calm like a swan but below, you furiously paddle through a tidal wave of jobs. This approach will ensure the team stay focused, avoid panic,communicate and work as a team.
If you get it right, you’ll deliver for the client, and in our business if we do that we’re lucky
enough to know we’re changing lives and helping patients, which should be an immense source of pride.
If you’re fortunate enough to work in client services, you will travel the world, meeting new people, overcoming unique challenges, thinking creatively and strategically, and knowing that your role is central to our business’s success. Without you, we’d be disconnected. You’re the glue; don’t come unstuck.