Keep calm and be a super Account Manager
“Hey, want me to tell you about the projects I am working on?”, Danh enthusiastically asked. Before I came to the interview, I already printed out a list of questions that I wanted to ask him. But with his offers, the conversation then went in an unexpected way.
Danh Pham is currently the Account Manager at Viet Mai Advertising. He is working on several projects at the same time. Food, award, cars. Just to name a few. Through what he told me, three tips to deal with clients can be woven as follow.
“Rule 1, client is always right. Rule 2, if they are wrong, please revisit rule 1.”
Many communication experts said that “Client is always right” or “You can’t say NO to your client’s request” because after all it is the relationship and business that matters (Markert 2007; Solomon 2008). This “theory” seems to be true for Danh. The heading above is his two hilarious rules to deal with clients. Simply put, you cannot frankly say “No” to your client. You should agree on their good side first and give them your suggestions later. This gives you a higher change that clients will listen to you. More importantly, he advised that account people have to know thoroughly about their clients so that they can approach these clients in the right way.
Danh’s team is working on a TVC for T.H. – an instant noodle brand. Ideas were planned by the client and they only asked Danh’s agency to execute it. The problem is that instant noodle is a saturated market in Vietnam in which every package, flavors and advertisement look the same. Turn the TV on, you probably see happy people eating instant noodle together and saying how delicious and yummy the flavor is. Done! Danh couldn’t fight with the client as they said it was wasteful to plan everything again. Instead, he said: “Your sales can increase up to 100%-200% in the next two months after the TVC is broadcasted. But I want to see it in the long term. So after six months, give me the report”. After a bunch of advice for the brand, the final choice is let them make the mistake first, then they will gain the experience later, Danh sadly acknowledged.
Solomon (2008) advised to always question your advertising before released: Is it boring? Can it catch customers attention? Does it enhance the client’s brand? In the case above, it seems like reality does not always match with theory.
PEOPLE – the most important factor in CRM
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is the process to obtain and maintain the mutual relationship between a company and its customers in long term (Marketing Teacher n.d.). Experts state that to initiate CRM, three elements should be applied: people, business process, and technology (Chen & Popovich 2003). Among these three, people is the most important factor to obtain and maintain this service.
In the middle of 2013, Rolls-Royce will officially launch its first store in Hanoi. Viet Mai is pitching with other agencies to win the project. Danh is optimistic that his agency can win as the client already signed the Memories of Understanding contract with only his agency. The client goal is to sell approximately 15 cars in the first year. The reply of Danh was: “What Rolls-Royce needs now is to change the bad perception of Vietnamese. When you can change it, selling your cars is no problem”. For years, Rolls-Royce was negatively captured by the media. People associate it with rich men and women who get involve in corruption and dirty money. Bingo! This extra thing Danh advised the client made his agency stand out: we do not only execute what you gave us, we point out what is good for you.
More things to prove that people is important in CRM: Danh pointed out that Vietnam market does not know the real values of Rolls-Royce. Those values lie in the carefully hand-made car bodies with the size designed to fit only its owner (Rolls-Royce n.d.). Danh said he flied back and forth between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City about ten times. The client only required Danh for two meetings. The other times Danh used to socialize with the clients, do market research about Hanoi and the place where first store will be opened. Danh also flied to Hong Kong and Thailand to know about the store conceptualization and decoration. Those extra things establish the Service Excellence which helps winning the client’s heart. Solomon (2008) said “You cannot lead an account from your desk”. So get out, meet people and do your research!
Smart planners needed!
Experts said that you should live your client’s brand to be a good planner (Solomon 2008). They include knowing their history, strengths and weaknesses, what people and the press think and so on. Experts also suggested that client planning should be “client-centric” rather than “agency-centric” (Sebastian 2008). We should plan to grow their business, not ours.
The Rolls-Royce case above somehow reflects this idea. Danh has strategically thought about the long-term benefits for the client. Also, his good aesthetics and analysis skill help to bring a global brand into another local context, as well as point out the differences of Vietnam market that client should be aware of such as the bad perception and unawareness of its values. After all, global-local adaptation is a crucial factor that many professionals advise every international business to have (McMain 2008).
Danh also shared that one key account of Viet Mai is T.H. automobile distribution. Viet Mai has done about 50 projects for this company and it established a good relationship with T.H. These two companies know each other so well and develop a good level. In planning, trust is important as only if the client trusts your agency, they will listen to your idea. The CEO of T.H., according to Danh, is a very good strategic-oriented person but he is very conservative. “It needs time to build trust and make the client listen to your plans”. Lucky enough, when you can endure your clients, they might become an important key account of your agency. Remember that when they grow, you grow with them!
So what we got now? Always satisfy our client’s needs, Be a service excellence person, and Plan smart. I said goodbye to Danh. A question is still stucked in my head: “Is it against our ethics to do whatever clients want even when we know it’s not good?”Word Count: 1088
Nguyen Phuong Uyen – S3325080
Chen, IJ & Popovich, K 2003, ‘Understanding customer relationship management (CRM): People, process and technology’, Business Process Management Journal, vol. 9, no. 5, pp. 672-688.
Dan Tri 2013, ‘Vi sao nguoi Han thich an mi goi?’, image, Dan Tri, viewed 12 May 2013, <http://dantri.com.vn/thi-truong/vi-sao-nguoi-han-thich-an-mi-goi-680632.htm>.
Marketing Teacher n.d., ‘Customer Relationship Management’, Marketing Teacher, viewed 12 May 2013, <http://marketingteacher.com/lesson-store/lesson-crm.html#>.
Markert, T 2007, You Can’t Win a Fight with Your Client and 49 Others Rules for Providing Great Service, HarperCollins, New York.
McMains, A 2008, ‘To Compete Locally, Global Brands Must Adapt’, Ad Week, 25 September, viewed 12 May 2013, <http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/compete-locally-global-brands-must-adapt-97049>.
Rolls-Royce n.d., ‘Provenance’, Rolls-Royce, viewed 12 May 2013, <http://pre-owned.rolls-roycemotorcars.com/rolls-roycemotorcars/provenance/homepage>.
Rolls-Royce n.d., ‘Provenance’, image, Rolls-Royce, viewed 12 May 2013, <http://pre-owned.rolls-roycemotorcars.com/rolls-roycemotorcars/provenance/homepage>.
Sebastian, T 2008, Tell Your Clients Where To Go! A Practice Guide to Providing Passionate Client Leadership, Infinity Publishing, Pennsylvania.
Solomon, R 2008, The Art of Client Service, Kaplan, New York.