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“Let become Friends with your Clients”

“Honestly, I do not have any tips or tricks when working with my clients”. That is the response when he answered my first question after the brief introduction: “Can you please share with me some effective tips in terms of building and maintaining long-term customer relationships”

I really was shocked after his answer. It might be normal response for novices or trainees but he is a core member of a large corporation as T&A Ogilvy, a WPP company, a part of the growing Ogilvy & Mather Group which seems to be a leading global marketing communications firm (WPP 2013).

Realize my bewildered expression, he smiled and continued:” Why? The reason is that I have ever considered them as my clients, in my mind, they are all my friends”.

Our conversation began like that way. Only after the first question I have found out a lot of surprises and enjoyable to him.

He is Mr. Lai Tien Manh serving as Deputy Director and Director of Business Intelligence at T&A Ogilvy Vietnam. Mr. Manh has joined T&A in 2005 before achieving Master of Business in Marketing from Victoria University in Australia. Having a solid background and extensive experience about brand communications, Mr. Manh always make his customers satisfied by giving the most effective communication solution. In addition, Mr. Manh was also a key marketer for some of the biggest international corporations such as Coca-Cola and Shell Royal Dutch (Business Week 2013).

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Figure 1:Lai Tien Manh – reproduced from T&A Ogilvy Vietnam (n.d)

Each organization and manager has their own list of elements that has a significant influence to their business and career. In personal view, the factor which Mr. Manh considers as the most importance is trust. Before talking about trust, Mr. Manh dedicated carefully how to make a new relationship with a new client.The first meetings between agency play a vital role deciding whether you can acquire this client or not. After introducing about the company’s profile and the company’s capabilities, it is necessary to integrate impression of ourselves with the customer. First impression is the key for a long lasting relationship (Hall 2009). Make sure you can prove your team and your company’s ability satisfy all customers’ demands.

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Figure 2: Reproduced from Mick (2011)

“Building trust like building a bridge

If you want to build a firm believer with your clients, firstly, you need to build a strong relationship like a strong background and foundation. Facts have shown that, many companies tend to build bridges as much as possible but without foundation; therefore, they even do not have any loyal customers. According to Ghosh (2011), the key of a successful business is building trust in your organization and your products. Mr. Manh said that due to Ogilvy is a well-known international advertising, marketing and public relations agency on a global scale as it is a most effective agency networks ranked by Effieindex (Effieindex 2012); hence, it could be one of the positive influence for the company in terms of acquiring customer. However, he argues that the reputation of a company is not much related to building trust because trust comes from individual not organization. Mr. Manh asserts: ‘’When you want to create belief to your clients and generate a strong agency-client relationship you need to trust and understand your client first”

.

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Figure 3: Reproduced from The Outside View Blog 2012

It’s quite true; I think only after understanding client does the next stage that is trust comes. In addition, understanding client is an important process that time to work together is necessary. The simple method to understand is to make questions to clients through communication. Giving client the chance to show their ideas, ask client questions and receive feedback from them to make sure the balance between what you have to do and what you want to do on project (Buttler 1999).  Mr. Manh states that after some discussions and meetings, the right time for you to show the understanding for the customer was during the Pitching because it will be the final rough deciding you will win or lose them.

 “Client acquisition as a process that you have a new friend and client retention as you make them become your best friend”.

Client retention is much harder than client acquisition (Solomon 2008). Mr. Manh shares an ideal condition to get one loyal customer is to gain all KPI (Key Performance Indicator) that is a type of performance measurement score in order to evaluate the success of a particular activity in which the agency is engaged (John 2011). It means that your company has to achieve what you have committed in the contract.

“Next is to build more relationships with clients”.

When the agency and the client work for an extended period, personal bond will become importance more than ever (West & Paliwoda 1996). Mr. Manh believes that in this stage you should build more personal relationship with your customers: “It is necessary for you to know and understand your client’s personal life outside of work. Considering them as your friend, inviting them to have lunch, dinner or drinking, it is time for friendship and not any work here. You and your friend share and confide each other about life”. He also insists that: ”when I go out, I will introduce them are my friends and I would never say they are my clients”.

The interview with Mr. Manh was the golden chance for me to understand deeply about Client Management in the workplace. His life motto is to put the real feeling higher than business. In this life, many people pursuit money and forget what is the true relationship and the true friend. “If you want to achieve something, you should be a giver that means you need to understand and believe in your clients before demanding they trust on you”, Manh smiles.

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Proof of Life (Photo taken by Phong Phan )

Word Count: 978

 

Reference:

Business Week 2013, Company Overview of T&A Ogilvy JVC Ltd, Executive Profile, BusinessWeek webpage, 5 April 2013, viewed 28 August 2013, <http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/private/person.asp?personId=61543571&privcapId=61178737&previousCapId=61178737&previousTitle=T&A%20Ogilvy%20JVC%20Ltd.>

Buttler, J.K 1999, ‘Trust Expectations, Information Sharing, Climate of Trust, and Negotiation Effectiveness and Efficiency’, Group and Organization Management, vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 217-238.

Effieindex 2012, ‘2012 Effie Effectiveness Index’, Effieindex webpage, 18 June 2012, viewed 28 August 2013,< http://www.effieindex.com/Pages/News/Default.aspx?ID=705d4aaa-c84d-49a3-9fa4-da4e30541ab4>

Ghosh, L & Roy, S 2011, ‘Importance of ‘Trust Factor’ in Corporate Branding’, IUP Journal of Business Strategy, vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 55-62.

Hall, M 2009, Soft skills at work: First impressions may be the last impressions, if you aren’t careful, Annapolis, United States, Annapolis.

John, F 2011, ‘Key Performance Indicators (KPI) How an organization defines and measures progress toward its goals’, Management About, viewed 29 August 2013, <http://management.about.com/cs/generalmanagement/a/keyperfindic.htm>

Lai Tien Manh 2013, interview, 14 August 2013

Mick 2011, ‘Trust Flow in SEO’, image, Search Factory, viewed 1 September 2013, <http://searchfactory.com.au/blog/trust-flow-in-seo/>

Solomon, R 2008, The art of client service, revised and updated edn, Kaplan Publishing, New York.

T&A Ogilvy n.d, ‘ TienManh.Lai Profife’, image, viewed 1 September 2013, < http://ta-ogilvy.vn/author/tienmanh-lai/>

The Outside View Blog 2012, ‘The Truth in Advertising: A Best Practice For Managing Ad Agency – Client Relationships’, image, theoutsideviewblog.com, viewed 2  September 2013.

West, D & Paliwoda, S 1996, ‘The decision-making structure of clients’, European Journal of Marketing, vol. 30, no. 8, pp. 22-39.

WPP 2013, Ogilvy and Mather Worldwide, About Us, WPP Corp, viewed 28 August 2013,  <http://www.wpp.com/wpp/companies/ogilvy-mather-worldwide/>

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One thought on ““Let become Friends with your Clients”

  1. -Good flow of information, some points are quite general. Could use specific T&A Ogilvy case studies.

    -It is interesting to note that the way it was written, it was rather ‘objective’. The ‘friendliness’ and closeness of how agencies should view clients as friends did not really reflect on your blog. How did you make Mr. Manh your new ‘friend’ during the entire process of this assignment?

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