working towards great client service

“Trust” Is A Verb

  • Studied about Environment.
  • Won over 400 candidates for a position of The Advertising Department in Toyota Vietnam.
  • Switched into JWT and became an Account Executive.
  • Switched (again) into Square Communication Agency.

This very short profile really impressed me when I first knew this man.

Vu Nguyen, Account Manager of Square Communication

I met Vu Nguyen – an Account Manager of Square Communication Agency – in one of the busiest working days of a year. We failed to meet each other few times before due to his busy schedule.  Surprisingly, when I met him, there was no sign of being tired that showed up on his face. In front of me at that time was a man with a warm smile. And the story began here.

Vu used to study about Environment for his Bachelor Degree, but he ended up being an advertiser after winning over 400 candidates for a position of the Advertising Department in Toyota Vietnam. Yet Toyota is not the place where he belongs to, but where he knows what he always dreams of. After 3 years he switched his job for the very first time into JWT and worked as an Account Executive. And three months ago, he applied and got a job for the Account Manager position in Square Communication – a young, potential, enthusiastic and dynamic advertising agency in this city.

 Credibility – the key to open the door of any relationship.

When it came to the question about building and maintaining relationships between agency and client, without thinking Vu answered me directly, shortly and simply: “Trust”. According to Labahn and Kohli (1997), trust is one out of two main factors that affects an advertising agency-client relationship while the other one is commitment. The more an agency can gain trust from its clients, the better commitment it will get from them.


This reminds me of the story of the perfume Chanel No.5, which one of the values that Coco Chanel would love to bring to the consumers is that when you leave a room what people still remember is YOU with the fragrance, not the fragrance only.  People might remember you, but they will remember more when the fragrance you wear tells them exactly who you are. Similarly, people might know your agency’s reputation, but what makes them commit with your agency is the trust you gain from them. Trust, in this case, is the fragrance that an agency should wear. But, how to gain trust from our clients?

However, the perception about “trust” between agency and client is highly different. According to Chernyshev (2008), the definition of “trust” from the agency side is to show their passion, talent and drive that trust by their desire while most of the clients consider “trust” as the written contract in order to secure themselves. Therefore, in order to balance this gap agency should comprehend more about its clients.

“All of agencies want to build a good relationship with their clients. But how they want to be good to those clients is another story,” – said Vu. He shares that a good agency is the one that knows its clients’ brand as well as their objectives in order to be able to adjust their needs and solve problems professionally, not the one that does anything blindly for its clients. According to Arden (2008), finding out the desires of clients is highly necessary for any agency. Those desires might never be in the brief, but if you can figure them out and adjust more values on it you will meet their demands exactly. As a result, we can gain trust from our clients by supporting them, not indulging them.

Choices are always good

As I mentioned above, Vu used to work at Toyota as an advertiser- who does communication plan for products and asks agencies outside to implement the whole process. This also means that he used to be on client side. So what are advantages of the one who is now on agency side with client-side-experience? They are knowing what a client really needs, and understanding their situations.

“Always bring your client more than one concept. What is the right number? It depends on the client.” (Solomon 2008)

Many account people complain that clients often ill-treat when they change their requests day by day, which really waste time of those agency people. However, Vu said that the main characteristics of an advertising agency are options and changes. There is no agency which can win their ideas for the first time of pitching without changing something after that. On the other hand, people from client side cannot decide everything by themselves, they need to get approved from their managers. That is why we always have to prepare more than one option for clients. It is not what so-called “waste of time”, it is what a professional agency can do to leave its brand and its “fragrance smell” also.

Don’t take “NO” for an answer

Here is another tip that Vu thinks is useful for any agency people, especially those new comers in advertising industry in order to build relationship with clients: “Don’t take NO for an answer.” For any answer which says “NO”, it is not the one for us to give up but the motivation for us to persuade our clients in other ways as well as enhance our credibility to the clients.

Never use e-mail

“Email is just used for briefs and confirmations. Other kinds of communication between agency and client should be face-to-face,” Vu said. Even when we know how to put our agency in client shoes, you had better be face-to-face, or on the phone instead of email in order to solve out problems.

Proof of Life

Proof of Life

At the end I asked Vu the very last question about his motto which is always with him when he has worked in advertising industry through these years, ‘”Risks are a measure of people. People who won’t take them are trying to preserve what they have. People who do take them often end up by having more,’ Vu said, ‘it’s from Paul Arden, one of my favorite authors who wrote many advertising ‘bibles’ that I always learn from. Thanks to taking risk I did have enough bravery to step into where I would love to belong to, or else I would never be here today. So just keep calm, and take risk,” he winked his eyes.

Wordcount: 1057


Arden, P  2003, It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be, Know Your Client’s Aims, pp. 41- 42, Phaidon Press Limited.

Chernyshev, M 2008, Agency- Client Relationship Research, viewed on January 3rd 2013

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Labahn D W. & Kohli C 1997, Industrial Marketing Management, Maintaining Client Commitment in Advertising Agency –Client Relationships, vol. 26,  pp.497- 508, Elsevier Science Inc.

Solomon, R 2008, ‘The Art of Client Service, Revised and Updated Edition: 58 Things Every Advertising & Marketing Professional Should Know’, Kaplan Publishing.


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One thought on ““Trust” Is A Verb

  1. The tips are quite general, we have heard them all before, that’s ok… but what could have made your article stand-out is giving it a unique point of view. Example, Vu has both worked in client and agency side… perhaps the article could have made comparisons to his experience in two sides of the pond. Or… since he used to study environment, you could have written about a CSR/ Going Green angle. The title is misleading as there is only 1 section about ‘trust’ and it does not reverberate throughout the article. ~Mel C

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