working towards great client service

How hard it takes to say NO to your clients?

Among 12 weeks of lectures, I found that CRM – Customer Relationship Management was the most interesting topic to me. Honestly, at first I thought “Dealing with customers is a boring job to do, because customers change their mind constantly, they obviously know nothing about the field that you’re sort of an expert in and they still keep on acting like they are full with skills and you’re a dork”. However, I found that building and maintaining customer relationship is an art which I have potential and also desire in. There are certain steps to build a strong customer relationship which are acquisition, profiling and segmentation, personal offers and tracking. Besides that, certain essences which contribute in maintaining customer relationship are attracting the right customers by market segmentation, retaining the customers through satisfaction with service delivery experiences and enhancing customer value through relationships by value-adding. Furthermore, getting in the mind of the customers is the key to win. Therefore, I had an interview with Mr. Ho Hoan Vu – current senior social media specialist at EdgeAsia. According to EdgeAsia (2013), EdgeAsia is the first South East Asian Digital Advertising Network with an Asian soul, a full-service digital marketing solutions provider, specializing in planning, creating, measuring and analyzing online marketing programs with more than 200 offices in 90 countries. Furthermore, the amount of workload and experiences working in the firm is just enough for what I desire to find out for my topic. On the other hand, he has 4 years of experiences in building and maintaining relationship with customers since he has found his longingness in the customer field no matter which position he’s in, his first job was a senior account executive at MiR Activation in 2009.

In his work life, Mr. Ho Hoan Vu has been cooperating with various types of clients, whether they are a small company or a big corporation. Therefore, I asked him what was it like when dealing with customers? Not surprisingly, he answered “Well, sometimes kissing up your customers will get you everything. Other times, it gets you nothing. Therefore, you must have different ways to deal with different customers. It gets harder when you work for the Account department and you are in a situation where you have to stand between your client and the other department in the company.” Then he gave me an example to illustrate, he once worked with Bel Viet Nam as an agency, Bel VN requested a design for their up-coming project and they kept on denying and saying bad things about the design came from the Creative department. Then, he just couldn’t come back to his company and say exactly the same thing with what the client has told him, he had to translate it to another phrase, making it easier to listen and receive feedback for the Creative department so they wouldn’t be demotivated and could moving on creating another artwork. “There is no No in client’s vocabulary” (Solomon 2008, p. 105), I asked him about this and he confirmed me with a biggest YES I’ve ever seen.

Figure 1. You can't just simply say no to your clients. Photo by author

Figure 1. You can’t just simply say NO to your clients. Photo by author

However, he states that we just can’t always say yes yes yes to our client, there’s always a safe-zone for our agency. We should always know our limitations because if we don’t, client will ask for too much, they will go beyond our capability. To support for this argument, V. Kumar and Reinartz W. (2011) clearly indicates that there are other ways rather than saying No to your client. Additionally to that, Mr. Ho Hoan Vu states that your client is always “fragile”; therefore, they cannot accept a “No”. Moreover, we must come up with how to deny a client in a more “gentle” way if we think that we cannot help them this time but make sure that if they have other needs or difficulties, they will think of us first, that’s what matters the most, according to Mr. Ho Hoan Vu. As Benjamin Franklin once said “Honesty is the best policy”, don’t wait around until your client asks you about the task, deny them gently if you cannot finish the task in order to keep them coming back to your agency and otherwise you would not want to burn the bridges because in the PR/Advertising industry, nobody cares about how great you have worked so far, but if you make one mistake, just one mistake, the whole world will aware and your reputation will go down the tube, so you might want to be more careful on every move you make.

Figure 2. There are various ways of saying NO gently. Reproduced from FreshDesk Blog (2013)

In conclusion, the interview I have conducted with Mr. Ho Hoan Vu seems to bring me a little more experiences in the keeping relationship with clients. However, some information is what he said based on his working experiences; it might not be suitable for all cases. But look on the bright side, you can still take it into consideration when dealing with clients because there are various types of clients out there. Some are nice, others are evils, they always want to get more for less price and they will push your agency to the edge to satisfy their needs and wants. Therefore, learning how to deny your clients is the most significant experience to have. Furthermore, building and maintaining relationship with clients is not easy as taking candy from a child, it’s an art of communication to satisfy them or to deny them with the guarantee that they will come back for more and you must always balance between your clients and your firm/agency.

Word Count: 921

Figure 3. PROOF OF LIFE. Photo by author

EdgeAsia (2013), Who We Are, , viewed 27th August 2013.
Solomon R. (2008), ‘The Art of Client Service’, published by Kaplan, New York, pp.105, viewed 2nd September 2013.
Solomon R. (2008), ‘The Art of Client Service’, published by Kaplan, New York, pp.108, viewed 2nd September 2013.
V. Kumar & Reinartz W. (2011), ‘Customer Relationship Management – Concept, Strategy and Tools’, 2nd edition, published by Springer, viewed 30th August 2013.

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One thought on “How hard it takes to say NO to your clients?

  1. -The article was unfortunately very surface level. No detailed examples or insights were discussed. Vu’s work in Edge Asia in relation to CRM was not explained. Tips for future client managers not explored fully.

    -Where and what were the conditions surrounding your interview? The proof of life just seems to be a ‘party’ photo. It could have been relevant if the article talked about client servicing “after hours.”

    -Overall, the discussion of CRM was not really done. The ideas written in the article do not seem to have a focus. At the very least link Vu’s experiences with service excellence or client retention as we’ve discussed it in class.

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