The effect of organizational culture toward the relationship between agencies and clients
“I do not know much about other industries, but in communication field, organizational culture is extremely crucial’. That is what Ms Hoang Ngan who is a young and talented account executive at Mekong Communications said when asked about the role of organizational culture in the relationship between agencies and clients. Understanding clearly about organizational culture will help agencies to achieve fundamental acknowledgement about clients and their expectations. Hence, an agency can apply appropriated behaviors, action and attitude to be able to communicate effectively and meet clients’ needs.
Figure 1. Reproduced from the author (2013)
Although Ms. Hoang Ngan used to study Tourism and Hospitality in Singapore, she decided to begin her career in Vietnam as an account executive at Mekong Communications. This is a digital marketing company which focuses on social, PR, media and strategic planning. As an account executive, she takes charge for pitching, meeting with clients, conveying ideas for other teams for execution and making sure that those campaigns will be succeed.
Before came back to Vietnam, Ngan had an opportunity to work for a 3 stars hotel named ‘Kam Leng Hotel’ in Singapore for 6 months in customer service department. She shared that there is a significant common thing between an account executive and a customer service employee is that she has to work with many clients who have different ‘culture’. “Getting to know clients is similar with dating a guy. If I want to begin the relationship with him, I have to know his ‘culture’ first”, she said hilariously.
Definition of organizational culture
According to Florentina and Georgiana (2012), organizational culture is “a company’s own set of beliefs, values and ways of empirical management which reflect in the company’s structure and system”. In other words, organizational culture is related to certain principles which reflect the prominent characteristics of a firm. Furthermore, these values will also effect to the way employees think and behave not only inside but also outside an organization. Besides that, organizational culture has a strong connection with Client Relationship Management process (CRM). To be specific, successful CRM performance depends a lot on capability of an agency to identify and respond to potential obstacles of culture within the corporate time with clients (Iriana & Buttle 2006). Ms. Ngan also agreed with this point. She said that “There is no doubt that organizational culture has the huge effect to the relationship between agencies and clients; I believe that strong understanding about culture of clients will lead to successful corporation as well as decrease conflicted situations with clients”
Three levels of organizational culture
According to Jarratt & O’Neill (2002), there are three main levels of organizational culture which are artifacts, shared values and assumption. Surprisingly, Ms. Ngan also applies these levels to approach culture of clients. Firstly, artifact could be considered as the most visible level of organizational culture including tangible factors such as work environment, dress code, facility, gender, age of individuals in a company (Madu 2011). Factors of artifact level are quite easy to recognize. When Ngan meets new clients, she needs at least 1 minute to observe outlook of clients so she can have basic knowledge about a person who she will work with. Ngan shared that “If I have young and active clients, I will positively suggest and discuss ideas with them. In contrast, I have to be careful and put my ego aside when having meeting with elder clients”.
The second level of organizational culture called shared values which are usually reflected by working style and environment of an origination such as time orientation, prestige or independence (Wanto & Suryasaputra 2012). Members in an organization do not actually realize those factors because they has get used to it. Ngan told me about a story about Japanese clients. At the first time, she felt really uncomfortable and tired when having meeting with Japanese clients because they usually ask for meeting at 8.00 am, but her company usually work from 9.00 am. “I have to work very late at night prepare everything carefully. Hence, I feel really tired, lack of concentration in meetings with Japanese clients in the next morning”, she said. Then, she knew that 8.00 am might be early with Vietnamese people but it is usual working time of Japanese people. Therefore, Ngan decided to prepare documents and go to bed early before having any meeting with Japanese clients.
Assumption is the last step but also the most difficult step of organizational culture. Assumption could be understood as an essence of beliefs which shared and taken for granted as long as employees in a company agree that those assumption and beliefs will led the organization to keep being successful (Madu 2011). Although this level of organizational culture is really hard to identify, once an agency is able to understand clients’ assumption, it will be easier to figure out the hidden things that control attitude and action of personnel in an organization. Ngan worked with a client from Korean company. The manager of that company did not focus much on a process of a campaign; he wanted nothing but the best consequence of his campaign. At the first time, Ngan did not know about culture of this client so she reported one problem to him. Then a manager told Ngan that he did not care about this thing; solving problems were Ngan’s tasks, not him. Since then, Ngan knew that she could not make any excuse to him and she had to figure out solutions for her problem.
In conclusion, after an interview with Ms. Ngan, I had more knowledge about organizational culture between businesses in reality. I think that organizational culture is the crucial step in term of establishing, maintaining and developing relationship with clients. This also helps an agency to avoid uncommitted circumstances within the corporate time.
Word count: 972
Florentina, P & Georgiana, R 2012, ‘Organizational culture and its way of expression within the organization’, Economic Science Series, vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 371- 376.
Iriana, R & Buttle, F 2006, ‘Customer relationship management (CRM)- System implementations’, The International Journal of knowledge, culture and change management, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 138- 147.
Jarratt, D & O’ Neill, G 2002, ‘The effect of organizational culture on Business- to- Business Relationship Management Practice and Performance’, Australia Marketing Journal, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 21- 39.
Madu, BC 2011, ‘Organizational culture as driver of competitive advantage’, Journal of Academic and Business Ethics, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 1- 9.
Wanto, HS & Suryasaputra, R 2012, ‘The effect of organizational culture and organizational learning towards the Competitive Strategy and Company Performance (Case Study of East Java SMEs in Indonesia: Food and Beverage Industry)’, ‘Information Management and Business Review’, vol. 4, no. 9, pp. 467- 576.