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The Art of Client Services – Satisfy clients without saying ‘Yes’

The Art of Client Service – satisfy clients without saying “Yes”.

Written by Dang Huu Hoai-s3394180

In business almost everywhere in the world, clients are always considered Gods. They ask and we reply, we always assume that the consumer is always right and we try their best to accommodate any client’s requests to an extent as much as possible. However, it is questioned that always saying “yes” to clients is the best strategy to satisfy clients and build a long-term relationship with them?

An conversation with a senior account executive in the advertising industry give an advertising apprentice like me a deep insight into the dilemma of saying “yes” or “no” to clients. Trinh Quang Long – senior account executive at TBWA/Vietnam – explains briefly that “neither saying “yes” all the time nor “no” are not answers to retain the clients. Satisfying clients is an art form; you need to communicate effectively and sensitively”.


Figure 1: Mr. Trinh Quang Long

The “trap” We all fall into.

As for new account executives, they are so strongly driven by the need to impress their boss or their peers that they forget to review their own capacity as well as the agency’s ones. All they do to the client is saying yes, yes, and yes. The second one is fear because as a newbie in the industry, many account executives are afraid of being seen as incompetent or useless. As Mr. Long indicated ‘They are freshly graduated, inexperienced and aggressive. They want to be considered excellent, but that’s why they make mistake’.


Figure 2: The Dilemma of Yes/No

(Reproduced from 123RF (2013)).

What do new account executives need to know?


  1. 1.      The power of saying ‘No’.

Mr. Long says without any hesitation ‘saying no to clients is also a way to build trust and to retain them’. As he explains when we say no to our clients, that’s doesn’t mean we reject their demands, but we offer them better options because Kiisel (2012) realized the clients are rarely sure of what they want and do a good job to cover what they need. When the clients approach us for consultation, they have little knowledge of the current market and what they need to improve with their new products. Even worse, if they don’t know the answers, they often make them up. This often leads us to a wrong direction and result in bad outcomes for both agency and clients. Therefore, saying ‘No’ with good rationale to clients show the wide range knowledge of market as well as the current situation of client’s problem. Furthermore, the perk of saying ‘no’ to clients is that we demonstrate our honesty to them, which is very important in any relationship. As a result, we can build a long-term relationship with them.

 2.      The element of Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

 We don’t live up to client expectations, which cause serious consequences for you, your business and agency’s reputation. As Solomon (2008) says always manage client expectation from the outset. Mr. Trinh also has the same viewpoint as he emphasizes ‘The measurement of how good an account executive is his ability to manage client expectations’. The Emotional Intelligence helps new account executive feel more confident when they reject clients’ demands and manage clients’ expectation easier. As Goleman (1998) defines Emotional Intelligence is the ability to understand not only your own emotions but also other people’s emotions well enough to move people in the direction of accomplishing your organization’s goals.


With the combination of 5 components: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills, new account executive will be able to response clients’ question in a proper manner and satisfy clients without saying yes all the time. For instance, Mr. Long talks about how to apply EQ in real life by sharing one of his experiences when he was an account executive. As Vinamilk came for consultant, all they was asking how to increase sales, they tried to make us do what they thought was right. Mr. Long realized the situation would get worse if we insisted on agreeing with client. He noticed the clients’ anxiety and tried to calm them down with more than 3 ideas from the creative team. He showed them the current market research and told them the problem of Vinamilk, which is the decreased level of brand image among target audiences. He told about this ‘We always need a back-up plans, back-up solutions in all situations, in case the clients’ demands. The statistics is the only thing that comforts them easily’.


Figure 4: Characteristics of Emotional Intellgience (EQ)

(Reproduced from DTS International (2013)).


What to bear in mind?

There are many ways to satisfy clients. One of them is to say ‘no’, but with a right attitude. As Mr. Long finally conclude his points ‘the quality of work is crucial, but the attitude towards clients and the work decide whether clients want to work with you in the long run or not’. As an young and new account executive, you need to bear in mind two things: the power of saying ‘no’ and the EQ.


Word Count: 800


Goleman, D 1998, ‘What makes a leader?’, Harvard Bussiness Review, Nov/Dec 1998, vol. 76, no. 6, pp. 93-102, viewed 1 December 2013, <>.

Kiisel, T 2012, “3 reasons why the customer isn’t always right”, Forbes, viewed 31 December 2013, /.

Long, Trinh Quang 2013, interview, 24th December 2013.

Solomon, R 2008, The Arts of Client Service, Kaplan, New York.


Reference Image:

123RF 2013, ‘Stock photo – yes or no dilemma compass conceptual image isolated on white background’, image, 123RF, viewed 30 December 2013, <>.

DTSInternational 2013, ‘How does Emotional Intelligence affect your DISC profile’, image, DTS international, viewed 30 December 2013, <>.





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One thought on “The Art of Client Services – Satisfy clients without saying ‘Yes’

  1. There is a photo that is tagged with in this article. That photo is not on my website. Please remove the tag. Thanks!

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