Agencies – at your service?

How the customer/agency relationship can go wrong, and how to avoid it.

When I’m talking to new or existing customers, I like to talk to them about other agencies. What can I say? – I’m nosy.  A lot of folk aren’t that keen to talk about their relationship with other agencies – probably they think it’s none of my business. Or maybe they think I’ll be jealous, who knows (“hey, you work with other agencies?!”)

A familiar sad story

When I do get any feedback, it’s pretty depressing to learn how many people out there have been burned by a bad experience. Let’s see if you recognise any of these scenarios:

It all starts with a big shiny pitch, where the top dogs come to see you and impress you with a very polished presentation that blows your socks off. There are pretty pictures, talk of customer journey and ROI, reference to all of your pain points and how they’re going to solve them. They have experience, they have passion, they have everything you’re looking for. Convinced that they’ll do a good job, you sign on the dotted line, and work starts.

And it’s not that the wheels come off, but…

So things roll on okay for a week or two, but pretty quickly you’re introduced to the folk who will actually be working on your account. Or maybe you’re not introduced, you’re just quietly handed off. And things are just a little less shiny than they started out. There’s a few things that can happen here. One option is that the folk you’re now working with are just a bit less experienced, passionate and motivated than the folk you originally met. They’re okay, but they’re kinda just going through the motions, if we’re being completely honest.

Another option is that, although you’re handed over to people who are in theory passionate and experienced, they’re also painfully overworked, are in permanent crisis management, and are now only servicing the clients who shout the loudest.

Or possibly it’s just a busy agency and they have bigger clients than you, clients on big fat retainers, who are getting the top-notch service while you get fitted in around the edges and treated like a second-class citizen.

(Actually, one option I haven’t mentioned is that the work is actually being outsourced to another agency, or worse, sent off-shore and only loosely project managed by the agency you’re using – but that’s a whole other story).

And you end up frustrated

Either way, emails go unanswered, you can’t get hold of anyone on the phone, and it all ends up being frustrating and hard work, slows down delivery, and just leaves a really bad taste in your mouth.

The thing is, probably none of these agencies set out to mislead you or provide poor service, it’s just that some parts of the equation were wrong – in the main, they didn’t have enough people, or they didn’t have the right people.

So what’s different about Freshleaf?

So here’s the thing about Freshleaf. We only hire people who are really passionate about what they do, and then do our upmost to make sure they are as motivated and experienced as we are. And until they are, we provide them with the support they need to ensure no-one is getting second-rate service. All of our work is done in-house, so we’re not trusting other people to take the same care over something that we would. There’s also no internal pass-the-parcel – our clients always have access to the people they initially engaged with, even if there are other team members brought onto the project for their particular skillls.

We also don’t have (either official or unofficial) tiers of service where bigger clients take precedent over smaller ones – everyone gets the right recommendations, the right attitude and the right responsiveness, irrespective of budget. And yes, we do get busy now and then, and sometimes we even get really crunched and we can’t get things done as quickly as we’d like, but then we tell our clients that. It happens, and mostly folk don’t mind too much if you’re honest with them.

We’re a relatively small agency, and we still have the luxury of very personal accountability. I’m not saying we’re perfect, but I can put my hand on my heart and say that we’re a nice bunch, and we never leave our clients frustrated, short-changed, or feeling like second-class citizens.

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