working towards great client service


Most of the issues regarding client management are about fostering relationship with clients. However, maintaining harmony between different team in your agency should not be forgotten. In order to produce good work, the creative team who tends to fill with unique things, and the account team who are driven with money should work harmoniously with each other. Nevertheless, creative team and account team represent as the two opposite sides, like black and white, thus conflicts will happen constantly.

This article will take a look into a small company where the account team and creative team must always collaborate together and how the company can both tighten the relationship between different teams and motivate all the employees using organizational culture rituals and symbols.

In a small corner of Ly Thuong Kiet street lies the small design company called Not A Basement. Having a chance to meet and interview Mr Hieu – one of the four company founders is my precious experience. Hieu graduated from Singapore Management University and had 6-year experience in the creative industry. Together with his other three fellows, the four young men made first application for Iphone in their final year of university. The application launch was a great result and it motivated them to produce more awesome apps to reach people, hence ‘Not A Basement’ was born in 2009.

The name ‘Not A Basement’ came from the idea of other application makers such as Apple and Google, they all start out in a basement. “However, we don’t want to stay in the basement forever so we name it like that. It also sounds cute”, Hieu said with a friendly smile.

The office inside is filled with lovely symbols and paintings, a funny artistic environment. The office has only twenty people, divided into three teams: Business team, or so-called Account team, Developer team and Design team.

The main role of Business team is to research the market, identify target audience and issues. Next, they create a brief for the other teams to propose solutions. The creative concept for the campaign is created by the whole 3 teams together, unlike other agencies in which the concept is decided and the creative team’s role is to work with it. Then the project will be developed under programming codes by the Develop team and then pass on to the designers. The designers in Not A Basement will also be application testers and provide feedbacks for the Develop team.

By taking a look at their working process, ‘Not A Basement’ is identified as a task culture, in which the organization is dynamic and constantly changing the task team to meet their plan with close connection between different groups and their functions (Handy 1976). This culture is mostly based on communication, integration and up-to-date information to affect the final result. However, difficulties appear “when there is a restriction in resources causing it to become more power or ‘role oriented’ (Handy 1976).  Approaching to that issue, maintaining the harmony between the employees and motivate them to do their best is an indispensable task.


Figure 1 – Adapted from, n.d

“We have so many arguments, almost everyday”, said Hieu with laughter, “but in the end it went well because we have the same goal to achieve. It’s like arguing to see the level of love to our project”.

One of the ways to solve conflict is to define the enemy, and remind your colleagues that the enemy is the competition, is whatever interrupts your working process. (Solomon 2008)

Hieu agrees with this statement totally and it is also the idea that Not A Basement teams cherish everyday. “We are not fighting to prove ourselves; we discuss together and decide what is most suitable for our project, which is our way of working. By having discussions, we can generate different ideas and come up with the best one”, just like Solomon (2008) stated, “We are smarter together than when we are alone”.

“If everybody just keeps silence all the time and let solely one team decide, we might not stand steady until today”, Hieu smiled. Comparing to theories, such as: “harmony helps smooth interaction among collaborators, avoid time wasting debates” (Hackman 2011), real experience may not always be the same.

Another aspect in a design company that is important to consider is how to rise up creativity among the employees. Motivation is an essential power for individuals to generate and implement creative ideas, and the employees are motivated when they have a strong identification with the organization. (Hartmann 2006) Bringing this theory to practice, Hieu kindly gave some tips to generate motivation in Not A Basement.



Figure 2. Adapted from n.d

“Creativity is what we all have and need, not just designers or creative director”, Hieu claims with a calm voice, “therefore everyone needs to be motivated”.

First thing starts with the recruitment process, selecting the right people that are suitable with the company. “The most important requirement, and also our value: Passion. We don’t care you do it badly or well, as long as you show us the passion to become better, we will support you by every thing we have.”

Figure 2 - Taken by Nga 2012

Figure 3 – Taken by Nga 2012

Take a look around the office, each working table is designed differently by their owners. The motivation that ‘Not A Basement’ gives to their colleagues is a fun working environment. People can be around the company and leave at any time, 8-hours appearance rule is not applied like other enterprises. There are free food and drinks, even games for all the employees to relax. “We do not apply mini pressures, as long as they have done the work before the deadline, it’s totally fine”

In summary, I believe that whether it’s a small or big enterprise, lacking harmony between teams in a company is as dangerous as the house lacking of wall foundation. The harmony relationship goes on with good work process in any situation. As long as you have a steady working team, you can face even the strictest clients. Moreover, maintaining harmony is not just about who is wrong and right, it is about enhancing the positive attitude and motivation with the help of organizational rituals.

Taken by Bang 2012

Proof of life – Taken by Bang 2012

Word count: 1070


Gizel Sharon, n.d, “Do you think I love you more is good in a relationship”, image,Tripadvisor, viewed 4 January 2013  <>

Handy,C, 1976, “Understanding Organizations”, Oxford University Press, UK

Hartmann, A, 2006, “The role of organizational culture in motivating innovative behavior in construction firms”, Construction Innovation: Information, Process, Management, Vol. 6 Issue 3, p. 59 – 172

Hackman, J.Richard, 2011, “Six common Six Common Misperceptions about Teamwork”, Havard Business Review, viewed 4 January 2013

Hieu Tran, 2012, interview, 12 December

Solomon, R, 2008, “The Art of Client Service”, Kaplan Publishing, New York, UK,

Zazzle n.d, “Follow your passion square stickers”, image, Zazzle, viewed 4 January 2013<>

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5 thoughts on “4TS – TIPS TO TIGHTEN TEAMS

  1. lynganguyen on said:

    Dear Ms Mel C and Phuong,
    Thank you so much for your comments ^_^ I’m really glad to hear that my article is interesting to you :”>

  2. Looks like an awesome place to work, FREE food! It would have been good to get more of your personal insights and even ‘feelings’ when you visited their office. Thanks for sharing, this is a great case study for a localized context of a ‘Googleplex’ however small scale, the symbols and rituals are indeed spot on! ~Mel C

  3. Hi there (whose name I cannot find in the article),

    I think the article is interesting. Personally I’m really interested in the first tip about arguments.
    I myself love working in groups with people who have ideas and rationale to defend them. If a company only has people with the same opinions, the same sets of mind, then they can only look at the problem from 1 mere perspective – meaning not being critical.
    I heard somewhere a study actually shows that if a group of people graduated from the same school same program and set up a business together, the business has higher failure rate than others whose founders and employees are from different background.

    So yeah, argument is one way to reach the best idea, just like the notion “marketplace of ideas”. As long as it’s not just for just sake of arguments, of course.


    • Hi Phuong… the writer is Nga : -) This semester, I started showing my Creativity students this video which is totally the opposite of ‘brainstorming’ when we say ‘there is no bad idea’ ‘keep comments polite’ etc. I have now made my classroom a place where students can disagree!

      Check this out: Does Brainstorming Work?

      • That’s a really interesting idea Mel C, will reduce the number of alternative solutions to a problem but enhance that quality of each suggested solution. Based on such method, only those who have strong rationale to back up their idea + the belief in their idea will be ready to stand up and present the idea to the group.

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