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CLIENT RETENTION: BEYOND A CREATIVE WORK

Author: Le Nguyen Phuong Anh – s3372974

Research has shown that retaining existing clients can bring higher profitability for an agency than trying to acquire potential ones (Hull 2013). A good partnership in long term is beneficial to both sides as it can enhance the efficiency of information exchange as well as the work effectiveness (Venetis & Ghauri 2004). In order word, client can achieve successful brand promotion (Waller 2004) while the agency can secure their accounts against competitors (Venetis & Ghauri 2004). However, convincing client to stay has never been easy. In order to have an insight into client retention, I met with Jimmy Hoang, Marketing Manager of Dunkin’ Donuts Vietnam. Although Jimmy has a lot of experience in account managing from his years of working as Account Executive for WPP in Singapore, our interview mainly focused on examining client’s perspectives on partnership and what are expected from the agency side.

In order to climb the relationship ladder and become a trusted partner, the most basic requirement for an agency is to deliver effective works that contribute to the success of client’s brand (Waller 2004). “We simply want something that can boost the brand’s popularity,” said Jimmy. However, fine works are not enough. “A lot of agencies out there have the same competence in creating impressive campaigns, so you have to have something else to offer.”  In order to achieve client satisfaction, agency needs to pay attention to other aspects of the relationship, especially communication and attitude.

Figure 1: The Relationship Ladder - Reproduced from Melanie Casul (2012)

Figure 1: The Relationship Ladder – Reproduced from Melanie Casul (2012)

Communication                            

“Many of the troubles arise from miscommunication, so both sides need to make sure in first place that their ideas are correctly communicated and understood by the others.” Good communication can minimize the chances of misunderstanding (Waller 2004). In order to satisfy client, an agency, first and foremost, must be able to listen to client’s concerns (Cleveland 2008). Also, keeping a good flow of information exchange is crucial in ensuring the smooth running of the promotional campaigns (Waller 2004). Ideally, the agency should contact the client frequently to inform them and to receive feedback about the planning and executing of the projects. If the brief is unclear of if the agency is confused about their roles, it is advised that they ask the client immediately for clarification. “It is better to clear all confusion in the beginning than to have troubles in the middle of the project.”  That way, the work efficiency, the quality of campaigns and also the relationship will be enhanced.

Figure 2: Reproduced from Dorothy 2013

Figure 2: Reproduced from Dorothy 2013

Attitude

Besides communication, the agency’s attitude is important too. “Nobody likes to be ignored or taken for granted. Neither do we.”  When the relationship becomes stable and a certain level of trust is established, some agencies make a mistake of taking their existing clients less seriously and going after new ones. There is nothing wrong with acquiring new clients, but keeping current clients should not be neglected. Hull (2013) believes that the moment the client no longer feel appreciated is the moment the agency loses its account. The best advice for the agency is to “stay hungry” and show the clients that they are always important and their needs will be prioritized (Hull 2013). Agency personnel should engage with the client side, both professionally and interpersonally in order to maintain the partnership. Plus, checking up on the client’s satisfaction regularly can help agency to alter their retention tactics and protect the client-agency relationships (Cleveland 2008).

“At the end of the day, who would not want a partner that they can count on? If your client is satisfied, it is very likely that they will come back for the second time, the third time or even more.” The communication industry in Vietnam is growing tremendously in the last decade and more agencies are joining the market. Therefore, it is always better for an agency, especially the small and medium ones, to hang on to their existing sources of profits before expanding their list of clients.

Figure 3: Proof of life

Figure 3: Proof of life

Word count: 647

References:

Cleveland, B 2008, ‘If only retaining clients were as easy as retaining water’, AdAge, 25 February, viewed 9 January 2014, < http://adage.com/article/small-agency-diary/retaining-clients-easy-retaining-water/125337/>

Hull, P 2013, ‘Don’t get lazy about your client relationships’, Forbes, 6 December, viewed 9 January 2014, <http://www.forbes.com/sites/patrickhull/2013/12/06/tools-for-entrepreneurs-to-retain-clients/>

Venetis, K & Ghauri, P 2004, ‘Service quality and customer retention: building long-term relationships’, European Journal of Marketing, vol. 38, no.11-12, pp. 1577-1598.

Waller, D 2004, ‘Developing an account-management lifecycle for advertising agency-client relationships’, Marketing Intelligence & Planning, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 95-112.

Image references: 

Dorothy, TM 2013, ‘Simple communication Strategies to keep your client energized and engaged’, January 24, viewed 8 January 2014, http://careerrocketeer.com/2013/01/simple-communication-strategies-to-keep-your-people-energized-and-engaged.html

Melanie, C 2012, ‘Lecture 2: The Relationship Marketing Ladder’, course notes for COMM2385 CLIENT MANAGEMENT, RMIT University, Melbourne, viewed 9 September 2013, Blackboard@RMIT.

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