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Archive for the category “Client Relationships”

“There is no right or wrong, yes or no in the event industry”

Interviewed by Ly Nguyen Ha Giang – s3411910 – Group 1 – SGS

 

Yes, I really want to meet this lady! I have to and I will!

I kept logging into Ms. Vu Thi Hoai Thuong’s profile – the account manager at Square Event – every day after accidentally finding her on LinkedIn. This lady with a smiling face creates the feelings that she is easy to talk to. This lady has the valuable experience with nearly five years working in the account team of different agencies such as 2res Co., Golden Communication Group and Square Group. She has the skills. She is exactly the one I had been looking for to write a magazine article about.
Square Event established in 2005 is a part of Square Direction Communication Group providing three core services to their clients including special event, activation and show management. Specifically, Ms. Thuong shared that in Square, account managers are not only responsible for handling the clients, being the representative of clients in the agency and the bridge to deliver the messages from agency to the clients, they are also in charge of the whole projects from A to Z as the project leaders.

Structure

Account Manager’s job at Square Event (Illustrated by the author)

Being the project leader is one of the advantages supporting Ms. Thuong as an account manager as she will have an overview and know the project inside out; thus, when clients approaching her for feedback, comments, etc. with aggressive attitude, she knows how to cool them down.

“Clients are our God. It’s true. But not always. Sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re wrong” – she pointed out – “But of course clients always know their brands more than we do”. Therefore, she shared that when her clients comment or feedback on their ideas, the first thing she would do is to listen to her clients. “Never say yes or no immediately” – she emphasized – “Simply say that I’ll take your feedback and comments to my team, then we’ll consider whether these ideas are suitable with your brands or the event or not”. If they are right, we will follow them. If they are not, do not say they are wrong, but explain that those comments are not suitable with the values of the events and your brands; therefore, we should follow A B C solutions.

“Actually, I think ‘clients are our God’ depends a lot on the account managers. Even though their feedback is wrong, we still have to show that they are our God and we respect them in every decision. Don’t tell them you are right or wrong. There’s no right or wrong, yes or no in this industry. There are only suitable or not suitable” – She kept repeating this point of view.

What if clients still aggressively thought they are right?
“I’ll tell them that if you think this idea is the best, we’ll follow you, but we’re not sure about the results, and if they are not as we desire to achieve, you can’t blame Square on that. Square always passionately attempt to produce the best events for the clients, give them the most WOW ideas, but still respect every decision of their clients. Moreover, I’ll give them the big picture of how their decision will lead to, so that they can have a clearer expectation of the results”.

TThe response to clients’ request (Illustrated by author)

The response to clients’ request (Illustrated by author)

Solomon (2008, p.105) also agreed that “There is No No in your client vocabulary” and “when an unqualified yes isn’t possible, offer a qualified one: “Here’s what we can do; it’s not a perfect solution, but does it address your need?”. Furthermore, Solomon (2008, p.105) suggested that the agencies should discuss, negotiate, collaborate, solve the problem together with their clients; clients will eventually accept the agencies’ solutions, especially when they have seen your effort. That is the working motto of Ms. Thuong, which has been helping her build and maintain good relationships with the clients.

Giang&Ms.Thuong

Proof of Life photo taken by Ms. Thuong’s co-worker.

Word count: 625 words (not include Title and Captions).

References

Solomon, R 2008, The Art of Client Service, Kaplan Publishing, New York, NY.

 

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Perception of client retention from client’s perspectives

Interviewed by Truong Thien Kim Long – s3324490 – Group 1 SGS

Readers know how agency does good to keep clients. It may be objective or subjective based on a writer’s perspectives. Have the readers ever thought of the opposite view? Join this post and imagine, what client thinks of the agency in one case study, presented in an interview.

(Colgate, n.d)

(Wpp, 2007)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An interviewee is Ms Nguyet Minh, Colgate’s Brand Manager. She specializes in FMCG industry and has 9-year working experiences; Ms Minh shows her professionalism and worldly-wise statement through her commitment to Colgate.

(Minh’s facebook, 2012)

“Colgate’s people concentrate on core values: Care – Global Unity – Nonstop Improvement. Minh said, three values are a basis of business strategy since they reflect Colgate’s lifework. Due to these values, its people have grown with Colgate and this is also the reason why Minh has become expert in being Colgate’s brand manager.

Minh gave the case study of Y&R and presented her perspectives about client retention. “Y&R works for Colgate-Palmolive in 4 years; however, there was a campaign, Y&R failed to satisfy us seriously”, said Minh. The campaign presented new Colgate toothpaste in Vietnam market that had the same functions but better quality than a competitor P/S. It was anti tooth decay and gave consumers pure breath, firmer and whiter teeth. Y&R helped Colgate run the campaign and attract customers (Minh 2014).

The problem is mutual communication. Y&R did not understand a brief but no asking at all. No pro-activeness in getting client updated with the campaign that made Colgate feel no more as the client who is buying a service. Y&R dissatisfied Colgate by offering few options and unreasonable rationale for the campaign.  These facts resulted in Y&R’s unprofessionalism, damage to Colgate’s trust and bad reputation (Minh 2014). Y&R also had no understanding of client’s market and insights.

Development of Trust

“Y&R is our long-term partner but the failed campaign destroyed our trust”, said Minh. Sobel (2010) stated Trust is a critical key in client relationships. Client trusts in agency’s capability by doing creative work and everything said must be supported with accurate facts and figures. Product’s image satisfies client’s needs so as to make them trust the agency (Casul 2012).  Solomon (Chapter 3, 2008) asserted the agency must live the client’s brand by being open and seeking new information and insights. You only live your client’s brand when you have research on their brand and product’s insights. You see the brand as yourself that helps you understand it clearly. The way you love yourself is the way you love the brand!

To give and keep Promises  

“Colgate pays for Y&R but we feel we depend on them for helps” (Minh 2014). Lack of pro-activeness and no understanding of the brief caused this fact. Solomon (Chapter 6, 2008) stated the agency must take the brief seriously. It was Y&R’s failure in understanding the brief. A good brief is important to obtain great creative work; if you cannot make yourself an expert on client’s product, you fail to keep promises with them (Solomon, Chapter 9 2008). Deliver what you promise and do not promise what you cannot deliver (Casul 2012). Y&R’s bad performances resulted in no keeping promises with Colgate. No understanding the brief matters since you do not ask anything so we cannot support you; “it is a bad attitude towards your promise”, Minh’s viewpoint.

Quality-Price-Time Triumvirate Model

(Blackboard, 2012)

(Blackboard, 2012)

“Colgate pays a service but Y&R does not assure the quality” said Minh. Casul (2012) asserted the agency should educate clients on quality and price; however, Colgate did this task instead. Minh added, Colgate has to pay additional fees because we want to speed the process up. It is costly to get the quality fast; without additional fees, everything seems slow. “Although we pay fees, it still seems like we do not pay anything for the service” said Minh. This point argues with Casul’s view, you can neither get the work cheap nor fast and it is either not a good quality. Moreover, “you can get good work cheap but it takes a long time” (Casul 2012); Y&R case study pointed a serious problem not to get the work cheap, good and it was a long time, too.

Hence, differences are in comparing communication theories and practices. The problem arose from the agency’s bad performances. Thanks to Minh’s advice, I present recommendations in client retention. Y&R is excellent; however, its local agency fails to satisfy clients and face bad reputation. Solomon thought the agency must get the client involved in the process early (Chapter 18, 2008); the process will be better. The client feels happy because they do not work alone. Additionally, client’s observation helps the agency check the work’s quality. “Y&R should have been proactive in contacting with Colgate during the process”; “quality does matter and we want Y&R assure it for us” (Minh 2014). “Don’t hesitate to ask, this is a way keeping us updated”, shared Minh; “We are willing to answer the questions”. Asking questions makes sure you understand us and go on right track. Without interpreting the brief, it is impossible to start. It is a must to understand the client’s insights and market. Nevertheless, Y&R had little research on Colgate and got briefing wrong. You should live your client’s brand (Solomon 2008), feel it, love it as love yourself then you know to do the best work for your client.

Proof of life: Ms Minh and the author (taken by another person)

Proof of life: Ms Minh and the author (taken by another person)

References

Casul, M, 2012, “Lecture 2: The relationship marketing ladder”, Blackboard materials, pp. 4-6, viewed 5th May 2014.

Minh, P, 2014, Interview for Client Management assessment, 3rd May, 2014.

Sobel, A, 2010, “How strong is your client relationship?”, Blackboard materials, pp. 2-3, viewed 5th May 2014.

Solomon, R, 2008, The art of client service, KAPLAN, NY.

 

“If the creative work fails, the account fails, If the account fails, the creative fails.”

Interview by Elaine Calibara – s3461778 – Group 1

Within an advertising communications agency, one would know that there is a strong difference between the creative team and the accounts team. On one hand there are the creative thinkers, the innovators, the artistic brain behind the work, and on the other hand there are the analytical, result-oriented, logical thinkers. In such a parallel atmosphere, does the “us vs. them” concept exist?

“It shouldn’t be considered like that, why does one have to be either of the two?” Ramon Calibara, Executive Creative Director of Chuo Senko Vietnam responds to my question in asking whether he thought his company is account driven or creative driven. From the outset I was taken back hearing this after only the third question of the interview as expectations led me to think there were two opposing sides within an agency.

IMG_4428

Proof of Life photo: Ramon Calibara, ECD, Chuo Senko

Upon hearing that a key member of the creative team could view the relationship between his own team and the accounts team as not a notion of differences, there is now a desire to learn how Chuo Senko Vietnam demonstrates effective teamwork. When discussing his team, there is a drive and passion in his voice, “There is an existing team spirit that everyone has, motivating each team member to commit to every job that is received by the agency. Every job is a common task. Each member is responsible for the job ensuring that we are doing the best work at its highest potential”. This is a clear depiction of a strong corporate culture.

Following the discussion of effective teamwork, Mr.Calibara offered to share insight to when the accounts team and his own team illustrated, in his opinion, one of the better successes of the agency. This success is at the root of his creative team, the accounts team and the client’s leap to help the agency. In 2013, Century pacific group hired Chuo Senko to create a campaign for them, “the client gave us a reasonable amount of time to work the campaign out and so the client service team came to the creative with a brief form the client that was so clear and well understood simply because the client side brought Vietnamese counterparts. The brief was written in Vietnamese and was only translated back to English for me to understand it.” After hearing how language barriers were no longer an obstacle he further added, “this translated in perfect harmony with the client service team and of course us, the creative team. It was very successful, the creative images were created a year ago and are still being used as we speak.”

This display of harmony between the accounts team and the creative team solidify Darryl Ohrt’s view that “there is a clear difference between the two cultures. And it’s not that creative-driven agencies don’t care about their clients, or that account-driven agencies can’t conceptualize. They do, and they can.” (Ohrt 2010)

After learning more about the internal environment of Chuo Senko Vietnam, I wanted to know how the practice of effective teamwork contributes to the external environment – their clients. In building their relationships with their clients “The quality of service needs to be taken into account and giving the client the best quality possible at the lowest price.” What Chuo Senko offers is the most ideal for their clients and displays the concept of the quality-price-time triumvirate model:

 

qualitytriumvirate

(Morelos, 2012)

Although Mr.Calibara does not mention time as a factor to provide the best for their clients, he does point out in his example that client’s give them an honest timeline of when the work is needed.

Mr.Calibara shared valuable opinions and knowledge on how the creative team and the accounts team work harmoniously to achieve the best work for their agency. His last remark as the interview ended he said, “There will always be disputes between the creative team and account team. It is all a process. It is a metamorphosis of the work. We are one voice, one name, and one team. If the creative work fails, the account fails, If the account fails, the creative fails.”

Word count: 688

References:

Darryl Ohrt, (Oct 12 2010) Advertising Age, http://adage.com/article/small-agency-diary/advertising-agency-account-driven-creative-driven/146361/, 02/05/2014

Monica Morelos, (22 March 2012 ) ClientManagementvn, https://clientmanagementvn.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/quality-vs-price-triumvirate-model/, 01/05/2014

 

How to make your Clients happy?

Written by Do Hoang Duc Anh – s3411694 – G1 (SGS)

On a windy Tuesday night, in the cozy atmosphere of Hard Rock Café where seriously ‘scary’ business men and women gather for a usual networking event, I by chance met a young man in a nice black suit who could easily impress surrounding people with his bright smile. He is Bui Dang Khoa, an account manager of Etihad Airways (a premium airline that offers 5-star luxury service) who has more than five years of client-related working experience in the travel industry.

Image

Figure 1. Reproduced from Hyat 2013.

Seeing him again for the second time, I planned to discuss in more details about how different account management could be between the two fields of travel and marketing. However, the conversation shifted quickly because in spite of the industrial differences, an account manager basically still has to take care of clients and be responsible for the company’s relationship with particular customers. We then ended up discussing the ways to keep clients happy and how to make them stay connected with the company. What I have learned after is so much more than what I expected.

“Dress nicely and remember to keep your Smile. Always.”

“Truth to be told, no one works in this field that does not have a nice-looking face”, Mr. Khoa stated. It is definitely an initial advantage for an account manager to obtain good first impression with the client. To him, we need to care about our appearance and make sure our everyday outfit is neat, comfortable and professional. Moreover, always remember to equip ourselves with a smile: “A smile is a salesman’s best friend”. It will make the atmosphere more relaxing and it is even easier for us to gain the client’s favorite status.

“Clients, believe me, they love to gossip.”

Clients are people after all. They like to talk to people with a wide-range of knowledge, especially in the topics of their interests. Therefore, in order to impress the clients and make them remember us, we need to know what they like and try to learn as much as we can about that subject. Mr. Khoa stated that we don’t need to become an expert on that field, just study enough to have a nice chit chat with them on the issue, like how great is the football match last night or the new cool way to score a nice goal in a Saturday golf game. This reminds me of the idea of ‘feeding our clients well’ proposed by Mr. Quoc Hung, the Media Director from Dentsu Vietnam. He also values the importance of relationship building between account manager and clients as we learn about their daily needs and what they actually like.

“People work with people, people don’t work with organization.”

Keeping close relationship with clients will be a great benefit for us. However, we have all learned that despite how close we are to the client, it will be unethical if we move to a new company, the account also moves with us (Solomon 2008, p. 95). Interestingly, neither agree nor disagree with the idea, Mr. Khoa just simply told me: “To me, it is a fair fight.” In his opinion, it is true we should make the client stay until they finish the contract. But when the contract between the company and the client is expired, that client then has the total freedom to choose who they want to work with next. “People work with people, and of course they prefer to work with whom they like”. In the end, it is a fair fight among sales-men, let the one with the better skills win, regardless it’s the fight against our former company.

Overall, from what I learned after the meeting, being an account manager is a true form of art. Different industry may have slightly different structures and requirements, but excellent account managers always need to be able to manage their clients effectively as well as make sure those clients receive the best service.

Image

Figure 2. Proof of life, photo taken by the interviewee’s co-worker.

Word Count: 660

REFERENCES:

Casul, M 2012, ‘ClientAcVRet Part3:3’, video recording, viewed 31 March 2014,

<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJVUIg2E3Oo&index=4&list=PL4A9C080B65632F85&gt;

Hyat, F 2013, ‘Etihad Airways in all Geared to Increase its Munich Route to Twice a Day’, image, customerservice.ae, viewed 3rd May 2014, 

<http://www.customerservice.ae/etihad-airways-in-all-geared-to-increase-its-munich-route-to-twice-a-day&gt;

Solomon, R 2008, The Art of Client Service, Kaplan Publishing, New York, NY.

 

A game of smarts: Client versus or not versus agencies

Written by Nguyen Tran Huong Thao – s3411918 – G1 (SGS) 

Talking about the client – agency relationship, for the past three months, I have been exposed to lessons, information and stories from the agencies’ account side. ‘Every story should to be heard from both sides’, they say. Therefore, I decided to have a chat with Ms. Sohpie Lam, Marketing Coordinator and Commercial Academy at Mead Johnson Nutrition to see how it is like from the client site. With her background of 5-year experiences working in the Marketing and Commercial industry, what I have gained from the chat is totally worth it for my new try from the other site. For me, this is real a game of smarts when doing business between clients and agencies. 

Ms. Sophie Lam Commercial Academy at Mead Johnson Nutrition

Figure 1. Ms. Sophie Lam
Commercial Academy at Mead Johnson Nutrition Reproduced from Linkedin, 2014

1. They are on the same boat, but each has their own expertise

Client planning, according to Ms. Sophie Lam, is about having insights into launching products, making marketing strategies and product supporting programs. In other words, client planning people are navigators to lead the boat towards the land of brand equity and business objectives from beginning to the end of every product launching voyage, a.k.a campaign.

Agencies are sailors in this game with strategic promotion and execution plans. Each agency have their own expertise to lead the boat towards the destined harbor. For example, with Mead Johnson, Saatchi – Saatchi is chosen for a creative advertising and Awareness for their professional practice. Each agency has their own strength and contribution to the final brand and business objectives. What challenges Mead Johnson here is that how to get these puzzles smoothly combine together. Vice versa, what also challenges the agencies is how to make good collaboration with Mead Johnson as their client since differences in expertise may lead to different expectations and obstacles in a B2B relationship.

Therefore, the game is all about how to make ends meet from both sides: Mead Johnson and agencies, the client and the services, the navigators and the sailors. What makes this game special is that, if the crew cannot work well together, they already create storms and rains for themselves to suffer.

Figure 2. Produced by the author.

Figure 2. Produced by the author

2. Unwanted storms avoidance

So, back to the point where the conflicts can happen among the crew, normally, it starts with different expectations (Edmondson 2012). When being asked about this, Ms. Lam agreed: ‘Yes, it is important to have common expectations, or at least, mutual understanding between the client and the service providers (agencies) in order to achieve the goals that we are aiming to. Both have to respect and follow them as basic guidelines’ and the effective work is one of the most basic yet important expectation to be mutually defined and understood. From the client site, ‘effective work’ here includes timing, confidential information sensitivity and agencies’ ability to bring out the uniqueness of their client in comparison to other competitors.

Figure 3. Produced by the author.

Figure 3. Produced by the author.

‘Some agencies nowadays are too confident about their product that forget to look out for what their competitors are doing for our competitors. We know that sometimes we are such demanding client but your agencies are hired to bring out the best of our brand equity, being overconfident is dangerous that they will blind you from competitors. If we have inputs, or complaints, they are inputs to make us different. We might not be experts in your fields, but we understand our product’ – Ms. Lam shared.

This reminds me of Solomon and his statement on ‘live the Client’s Brand’ (Solomon, pp.8): Agencies should be the costumers of the client, to understand about their product as well and to make the breakthrough of positioning it in the market with expertise. This, in my agreement with Ramsey (2005), is the core idea of effective teamwork expectation between the client and the agencies: Complaints can be real good inputs and teachers to show us where to fix, how to understand the product right and to not pass by unnoticed mistakes. If we understand the product, we see where it should be as brand equity. By then, we know how to make it there. It is a collaborative game of the navigators and the sailors for a bon voyage to the destined harbor.

Proof of Life photo: Skype conversation taken by the author

Proof of Life photo: Skype conversation taken by the author

Word count: 660 words (not includes title and reference list)

REFERENCES: 

Edminson, AC 2012, ‘Teamwork on the fly: How to master the new art of teaming’ in Spotlight on the Secrets of great team, Harvard Business Review, April, pp.3 – 10.

LinkedIn 2014, ‘Sophie Lam’, Profile image, LinkedIn, viewed on May 2, 2014, <http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=77410097&authType=NAME_SEARCH&authToken=B8Gx&locale=en_US&srchid=2984338761399214526005&srchindex=1&srchtotal=43&trk=vsrp_people_res_name&trkInfo=VSRPsearchId%3A2984338761399214526005%2CVSRPtargetId%3A77410097%2CVSRPcmpt%3Aprimary&gt;.

Ramsey, RD, 2005, ‘Handling Customer Complaints’, American Salesman, Vol. 50, Issue 10, pp.15 – 20.

Salomon, R 2008, The Art of Client Service, Kaplan Publishing, New York.

The ingredient cannot be missed in client retention and teamwork

Interviewed by Luong Tran Anh Phuong, s3426518, Group 1, RMIT SGS Campus.

Met Mr. Ho Hai Dang under hot temperature of summer afternoon at his house, he was so kind to share interesting experiences in working as a leader in balancing the relationship with clients and his team.

Mr. Ho Hai Dang has been working at Bao Minh Insurance Corporation since 2005 and now he is a General Manager of Agriculture Insurance Division. Bao Minh Insurance Corporation was established in 1994, that was a 100% state-owned enterprise under the Ministry of Finance. In 2004, it turned into joint-stock insurance enterprise and now it ranks the third place in non-life insurance in Vietnam. It aims to provide non-life insurances and consultancy as well as carry out financial investment in 20 different types of group of insurance commercial product such as maritime, aviation, casualty, automobile, agriculture and business activities in Vietnam.

Figure 1: Mr. Ho Hai Dang at work. (Photo taken by his colleague)

Figure 1: Mr. Ho Hai Dang at work. (Photo taken by his colleague)

The power of teammates in client retention

According to Mr. Dang, there are two main factors to acquiring new clients. Firstly, clients come to an agency because of its brand and reputation. Another factor is the ability to acquire new clients from particular team. Furthermore, he also pointed out the role of team members in building and maintaining relationship with clients.

“Normally, people think that the role and relationships of leaders in building relationship with clients is very important. But in my opinion, team members and employees are the one that play a key role to the success of each projects as well as building relationship with clients.” Dang said.

He explained that, when two leaders, managers or CEO have a meeting to discuss about the project that they are going to do, they are apt to focus on the policy, strategy, and signing contracts. But how they collaborate, how the project work out and the success of the collaboration that depends on implement of the staffs and employees. To elaborate, in order to bring the best result for the project, staffs and team members have to work hard in research information about clients and their competitors, understand client’s SWOT and markets.

In business, it is essential to maintain relationship with clients. As Solomon (2008) stated that “Great Work Wins Business; a Great Relationship Keeps It”.

“It is better if you show clients see how you care for them. For example, making a call to ask clients about their jobs and health, or ask them going to quan nhau. Be proactive and don’t let your client do this before you.” Mr. Dang said.

He also mentioned about the CRM (Client relationship management) in insurance industry and take CRM at Bao Minh Insurance Corporation as an example. He said that CRM in life insurance work better than non-life insurance. Moreover, in Bao Minh, each department would take responsible for its customers and clients. As a result, it cannot provide the best care services for customers. He hopes that Bao Minh Insurance Corporation will establish a CRM department that specializes in customer caring service for all departments’ clients.

 

Effective teamwork

Mr. Dang claimed that, in order to have best result in work, a leader should consider the division of work that make sure all his team are happy with the job offer.

“A good leader means he knows and understands clearly about his team member,” Dang said.

“In my opinion, a leader should base on team members‘ personalities and abilities to divide suitable tasks for them. Besides that, a leader must have ability to evaluate fairly team members’ contributions and show them what they do well and not well. Help them to face the difficulties and encourage learning from mistakes.”

In addition, he divides the tasks in public with the purpose of building team spirit in his members, give them chances to support and help colleagues and more importantly they enhance knowledge as well as gain experiences from each others.

Figure 2: Proof of life: Me and Mr. Ho Hai Dang (Photo taken by me)

Figure 2: Proof of life: Me and Mr. Ho Hai Dang
(Photo taken by me)

 Word count: 623

Reference:

Solomon, R 2008, The art of client service, Kaplan Publishing, New York.

Baominh, 2012, ‘About Us’, Baominh, viewed on 29 April 2014, <http://www.baominh.com.vn/en-us/category-637-about-us.aspx>.

 

“Do more than is required”- exceeding the client’s expectation

Interviewed by Nguyen Anh Sang, s3449962, G1 (SGS)

 

The great thing about ”Do more than is required” is that it is always moving forward. When it is applied, the effectiveness of work will be pushed further. This is interesting because it is not only an ordinary thing to do but also an important point that people have to bear in mind when working with clients. Can you make the clients appreciate your skills, products or services? How can you make your clients happier than the day before?

To answer those questions, I had a chance to interview Nguyen Thien Lam, Account manager of Saigon Live Media. He had over 6 years experiences in this field and worked with many clients such as: Enchanter, Techcombank, Nutifood  and some agencies such as: My share, Dentsu and Satchii and so on. Thus, he is a live dictionary to learn many things from.

Why “Do more than is required” is so important in client management?

“I think that this ideal is a lodestar for everyone working with client. It’s simply because if you can accomplish your work and show more work to the client, it is the way to impress the client what you are capable of as well as set the bar so high that other competitor cannot duplicate the thing you do and the service you give”, Mr Lam said. Surprising clients by exceeding their expectation is a good way to ensure that they will come back in the future. He added.

Besides, he advised that showing what you know about the client’ needs or problems or the competitors will make your client amazed and believe that you will be able to do more than they require. According to Solomon (2008), before telling the client’ needs, tell them what you know . Thus, Lam’s advice is very useful for working with client.

How to exceed the client’s expectation?

“ The very first thing I do is inviting my client to the coffee shop. I want to create a friendly environment so that I can find more about their needs and do something that they won’t expect. Sometimes, their needs are impossible to serve. At that moment, just try to complete their plan.”

Figure 1: Reproduced from Ramesh (n.d.)

Figure 1: Reproduced from Ramesh (n.d.)

He also shared an experience to make clients” Wow”. He used to work with Enchanter which was a sponsor of a television program. After completing the client’s plan, he did something more by holding an event for Enchanter. After that event, more than fifty articles were written about Enchanter. Thus, his client was so happy and decided to give the sponsorship for six months, instead of three months as planned.

Moreover, he suggested that people should try to be an expert in their field in order to make clients happy. And when clients are happy, you will satisfy and maybe exceed their expectation.  It is simply because the more knowledge you have, the more professional you are when working with clients as it can save time for clients on looking things up. When you become an expert in your field, you are on the level which enhances and keeps a good relationship with clients (Casul 2014).

The final question I asked him is: “What certain attitude do you think that is needed when working with clients?”

“I am transparent, empathize and I am a good listener”. He quickly answered the question.

Figure 2: Mr Thien Lam, account manager of Saigon Live Media and me

 

Put yourself in the client’s shoes and ask: “How would I like to be treated? and then find out the most effective way to do that.” is the lesson I have learnt from the interviewee.

 

Word count: 590

References:

Casul, M 2013, “Client Retention”, lecture inCOMM2384 Client Management, RMIT University, Vietnam, viewed 4 May 2014, Blackboard@RMIT

Ramesh, P n.d., image, Client’s expectation, n.d., viewed 4 May 2014,<http://www.buzzbinpadillacrt.com/how-to-get-the-best-out-of-your-pr-agency/&gt;

Solomon, R 2008, “The art of client service”, Kaplan, New York

 

 

“Excuse me, Mr.Client, but I have a better offer”

Written by Thinh Dat Duong – s3411886. Group 1 – SGS campus

 

Mr. Leon Shears is currently in charge of the marketing department of Grant Thornton, the world’s 6th biggest professional service firm, they provideassurance, tax and advisory services to privately held businesses, public interest entities, and public sector entities. With experience in the industry, he has shared his insight about client acquisition as well as client retention.

On client acquisition and retention

Client acquisition is the most important because without client, you have no business. But retention is obviously important. The cost of acquisition is very high. Achieving a new client takes a lot of time, a lot of preparation, a lot of men management and discussion, communication until you get that new client. Once you have that new client, you have to make sure your service is good, you provide exactly what he wants the way he wants it, to make sure when you ask him to come to sign the contract next year and he would say “Of course”. It should be a seamless transition from one year to the next.

You have to find out what the client wants. Quite often, the client will not know exactly what he wants, he thinks there is a problem, he thinks there is something going on that he wants to solve. It’s the supplier’s responsibility to extract and ask the questions, keep asking questions: “Do you think this is where the problem lies?” so the client, not only tell the supplier what is the problem, but the client feels comfortable, satisfied that he has explained the problem properly.

“The extra you do will show the interest you have with the client’s business”, he said.

He mentioned an example of the extra. You’ve got 2 warehouses. Both of them have 5 members of staff, and both are about 40% full. In a regular audit, you would say you’ve got 2 warehouses, exact number, exact staff. Tick. Correct. That’s what you’ve told me, that’s what I can see. Perfect. But wouldn’t it be sensible for the audit to say, “Excuse me Mr.Client, there are 2 warehouses, with each only 5 employees and only 40% full, you could perhaps take the goods out of this warehouse, out them into that warehouse, and that one will be 80% full. You still got the flexibility. And you can have the entire building, which you can either sell, leased for money, or you can knock down, build something else”.

It’s about getting involved in the business. You’re no longer a client supplier, you get to build a team. ‘If you don’t pay attention to building a strong relationship with your client, you run the risk of being shown the door, no matter how terrific the work’ (Solomon 2008, p.97).

Communication with client

One of the most important aspects of a client-supplier relationship is communication, by getting to know each other. (Reproduced from adrianejolly.com)

One of the most important aspects of a client-supplier relationship is communication, by getting to know each other. (Reproduced from adrianejolly.com)

The secret of any relationship is communication. The only reason you argue with your mother is because she does not understand you, ad you don’t understand her. The reason you argue with your girlfriend, is because you’ve said something, and she has taken it a different way what you meant.

Know what you want to say, so you really know yourself. You want to know who you’re saying it to, and get to know them as the best you can. You want to know the language they understand (the sort of words you can use). And of course, the channel that you use to communicate, is it verbal, written, pictures, tvc, a movie, a book?

Put yourself in the other person’s shoe. What do you want to hear from the supplier when you buy a motorbike? Are you interested in it has 125cc engine? Not really. Are you interested that it has double coil suspension? Maybe, maybe not. Are you interested that it can run 100 miles on a gallon? Yes. That’s important, that affects my pocket. Is it important that the brakes are double-disks? Yes. That’s my safety.

“The manufacturer/supplier must always know what the client wants to hear”, he concluded.

Word Count: 658

The author and Mr. Leon Shears from Grant Thornton. (Photo taken by the hotel’s receptionist)

The author and Mr. Leon Shears from Grant Thornton. (Photo taken by the hotel’s receptionist)

 

References:

Solomon, R 2008, The art of client service: 58 things every advertising and marketing professional should know, Kaplan publishing, viewed 28th April 2014

Image references:

Adriane Jolly 2013, ‘Improving communication with prospects and customers’, viewed April 30th 2014, < http://adrianejolly.com/improving-communication-with-prospects-and-customers/&gt;

“WHO NEEDS RELATIONSHIPS? I DON’T NEED RELATIONSHIPS” – says no businessman EVER.

Interviewed by Le Dao Tuong Vy – s3309943, Group 1, RMIT SGS Campus.

 

“Business is about relationship and relationship allows great work to flourish” (Solomon 2008). What about relationship? How can you build it? How can you keep it? These questions are possibly among the oldest questions in any business. Without a doubt, relationship is one of the most important factors to a business. Building a relationship is hard and it is even harder to keep it. Before my holiday on April 30th, I had a very interesting conversation with Mr. Vo Hung Dung about relationships in business. Mr. Dung is the Director of Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vietnam, also known as VCCI.

dialoose_1291590629_VCCI Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vietnam

(Reproduced from VCCI 2014)

In 1963, Vietnam’s government established VCCI. It has been the bridge connecting foreign business with Vietnam’s market ever since Vietnam’s government decided to allow foreign business to enter. This is the most important communication channel from overseas to Vietnam and vice versa.

According to Mr. Dung, after joining VCCI, he has been managing three main services: import and export Certification, short-term classes and event-planning service. These services contribute to the relationships between Vietnam and foreign business. VCCI gets involve with the communication field by developing its event-planning service. The event-planning department differentiates itself from other agencies by organizing solely big-scale conferences, seminars and shows for VIPs. The guests invited to these events are expertise in their fields from many big companies in other countries.

Mr. Dung shared a story about how VCCI got its first client in event service. As mentioned earlier, VCCI has provided another service, which is education. The courses provide businessman from other countries knowledge about Vietnam’s market so they can invest and adapt more easily. Vietnam’s companies through these courses can also have better understanding about foreign market. By providing the education service, VCCI attracts more Corporations and firms seeking for business opportunity in Vietnam. Since VCCI and Mr. Dung himself have become such experts in this category, the Corporations that took part at first decided to entrust Mr. Dung again with event-planning service. These foreign Corporations then became his first clients. In other word, the relationships that VCCI has with their clients go way back in the past. With his network, Mr. Dung invited many experts from Vietnam and overseas to talk at the conferences and seminars. Moreover, not only that Mr. Dung helps strengthen this bridge, he also makes it easier for Vietnam business to strive into the international zone. This service under management of Mr. Dung has contributed greatly to the profit of the organization and also to Vietnam’s economy.

10298879_1438205646427393_9029733810713793945_n

VCCI International Bridge

(Illustrated by author)

Mr. Dung kept repeating relationship is not a one-day and one night thing, people have to put effort into it. Relationship needs to be nurtured. Once you win a client from your competitor, be aware that it is still not the end for your competitor. Mr. Dung emphasized about the quality of service, the most important thing that will maintain the relationships in the long run. There is millions of organization competing with each other everyday and the only thing keeping them survive is the quality (Martin 2009). Since the day Mr. Dung joined VCCI, he has never seen any loss of clients. He shared the key to these success relationships was mutual understanding. To him, good communication leads to quality service and quality service maintain the relationships. 10264848_1438200563094568_1194264900265996164_n

Keys to Successful Relationships in Business

(Illustrated by author)

Apparently, Solomon (2008) also agrees with Mr. Dung’s point of view about how important it is to build and maintain good relationships in doing business. In addition, Martin (2009) and Mr. Dung both have identical opinions on the crucial impact of quality service to relationship between the company and the clients. You can win the client with good pitch, but the quality of the service will keep them. That is exactly what Mr. Dung believes in and work hard for it.

10155264_1438207976427160_1274879603488619897_n

 Interview with Mr. Vo Hung Dung – Director of VCCI

(Taken by author’s friend)

 

Word Count: 626 (Not include Title and Captions)

Reference

Martin, W. 2009, Quality Customer Service: Satisfy Customers – It’s Everybody’s Job, 5th edn, Axzo Press, US, viewed 28th April 2014.

Solomon, R. 2008, The art of client service: 58 things every advertising and marketing professional should know, Kaplan publishing, viewed 28th April 2014.

VCCI 2014, image, Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vietnam,vcci-hcm, viewed 27th April 2014, <http://vcci-hcm.org.vn&gt;

 

 

Trust Building – the Fight between an Old Fox and a Lime-pot.

By: Le Thao Vi – s3410135

“An old fox is not easily snared. Experience is the mother of wisdom. The longer you work at a place, the higher respect and position you will receive” (Manser, 2007).

 Image

Reproduced from Flix99, 2009.

Living in a culture valuing age and seniority like Vietnam, many old Vietnamese workers usually underestimate and disparage younger bosses due to their lack of life and work experience.

On the contrary, from the younger point of view, age does not always come with wisdom. Old workers seem to be incompetent to technology, afraid of changes and insufficiently flexible compare to younger employees (Munnel et al., 2006). This was closely reflected in a Vietnamese poem by Le Dat in 1956:

“Those who live a hundred years,

Just like a slaked lime pot.

The longer it lives the worse it is,

The longer it stays, the smaller it is”.

 Image

Reproduced from Baotangnhanhoc 2013

As a young manager in the future, it is inevitable for you to lead a team of old workers who are 40, 50, or even 60. However, the differences in opinions, attitude and experience between different groups might easily lead to disagreement, conflicts and consequently to distrust both in and outside organization (Galford & Drapeau, 2003). So, how could a young leader eliminate the arbitrariness of the old foxes and challenge the preconception about the lime-pot to attain agreement and harmony between two different generations within an organization? The answers will be found in this interview with Ms Nguyen Thi Huong Ly, the director of Vi Dai Phuong timber import and export company, which Ly officially inherited from her parents 2 years ago.

The encounter between two different ideas: the old fox and the lime-pot 

Reaching such a high position at the age of only 28, the biggest challenge for Ly was to remove the obsolete perspective of the old fox and win trust from both employees and clients. Back in time to her first months in the role of the company’s head leader, Ly faced many difficulties in getting her decisions supported by the company’s old managers who are at her parents’ age. These people tried to put difficulties in Ly’s way by disregarding or rejecting her opinions and ideas. By contrast, these experienced employees in Ly’s eyes was not as good as they thought. In her opinion, age made them slow, out-of-date and consequently less effective in work.

“They once viewed me with great suspicion. And I saw this as a sign of envy since most of them are older than me but have to work under my supervision. However, it was obvious that they have lower education than me, so they have to accept to be the inferior”, said Ly.

These long-lasting conflicts resulted in two letters of resignation from two 25-year-experience employees and contract cancels from several long-term customers.

“Conservatism is a big obstacle in the march forward” 

samen

Reproduced from Hypervision, 2013

However, Ly’s opinion could not stay in her mind long when she saw a sharp decline in the company’s productivity resulted from the strained work relationship among administrators. Her father called Ly and they had a long conversation at that day. Although the old managers’ opposition towards her was not new to him, he was quite astonished at her conception of the lime-pot.

“Since the day my father gave Vi Dai Phuong to me, he has expected me to walk on my own foot. Therefore, he did not discuss with me much about what I should do or should not. He simply said: “Conservatism is a big obstacle in the march forward”, and wanted me to think about it”.

“This helped me to realize that it was my resistance to change that caused conflicts within the company and put it into this difficult situation”, told Ly.

This early failure brought about an evolution of her attitude about the old workers, as well as of her leadership career path.

“Trust starts with truth and ends with truth” 

The old managers could not change the truth that Ly is the owner of Vi Dai Phuong, and similarly, Ly could not deny the truth that their age and experience easily make them trusted by other employees and clients. Therefore, she chose to rebuild trust in the company with truths.

Inspired by the quote: ‘Trust starts with truth and ends with truth’. I wanted trust in my company to become truth which is real and unable to be changed”, shared Ly.

Ly firmly believed that the only way to change the ingrained perception of the old fox in the old workers’ mind is to abolish her attitude of the lime-pot. ‘Stealing’ their heart by opening her heart.

“If you want to make fast progress, you have to swallow your pride and eliminate your prejudge first. It is completely wrong when you walk into the office and yell out ‘fire’: “I am the boss here and everything needs my approval”. You are only respected by respecting others, based on direct and straightforward communication ” said Ly.

Free talk is not only about job, but it also demonstrates people’s attitude and characteristics. It will help a young manager to grasp the employees’ needs, understand their ability, and give them a chance to know more about him/her.

 

5 keys for young bosses to manage older staff

Usually, young managers are pretty ambitious and impatient to acquire achievement, but inexperienced and unaware of their specific circumstances. Thus, the following tips are provided to help you successfully break through age discrimination and rebuild trust in your organization: 

–       Break off the parent-child relationship:

A child cannot request his parents to complete task on time, or to judge and criticize them. Therefore, by accepting this kind of relationship, you cannot ask your old employees to work seriously and effectively. Do not treat them as your parents or the ‘big kids’, but as your colleagues.

–       Abandon misleading perception of the previous generation

Not all the old workers are the same, and you need to spend time on understanding them to use them effectively. Usually talk with them, care about their outdated hobbies and assist them with technology, instead of criticizing their shortcomings in their ability.

–       Learn to respect others

As a manager, you should adjust to the generational differences in social and cultural awareness and contribution to work, as well as to appreciate their opinions and working habits.

–       Take off the hat ‘boss’

A knowledgeable leader will not be afraid of recognizing his/her colleagues’ capability. Old workers always have some valuable experience. Treasuring it, instead of wasting it. Questions and compliments can indicate your appreciation, which the workers always expect to obtain in the last period of their career.

–       Willing to listen to others’ ideas and even advice.

Do not afraid to learn from others when they have something worth to be shared. Not only does this help you to show your respect to others, but it also a great chance for you to enhance your professional capacity.

Taken by the author

Proof of life (Taken by the author)

 Word count: 1160

Reference for content:

Galford, R. & Anne, S.D. 2003, The Enemies of Trust, Harvard Business Review, vol. 81, no. 2, pp. 88-95.

Manser, M.H. 2007, The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs, 1st edn, Infobase Publishing, America.

Munnel, A.H., Sass, S.A., & Soto, M. 2006, Employer Attitudes towards Older Workers: Survey Result, Center for Retirement Research, Boston Colledge, viewed 20 December 2013, < http://crr.bc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2006/07/wob_3.pdf>

Reference for images:

Baotangnhanhoc 2013, “Triển lãm làm sống lại văn hóa Trầu cau”, image, Bao Tang Nhan Hoc, viewed 30 December 2013, <http://baotangnhanhoc.org/vi/tin-tuc-su-kien/su-kien-noi-bat/1315-trin-lam-lam-sng-li-vn-hoa-tru-cau-.html>

Flix66, 2009, ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox (Blu-ray)’, image, Flixx66, viewed 30 December 2013, <http://flix66.com/fantastic-mr-fox-blu-ray/>

Hypervision, 2013, homepage, Hypervison, viewed 30 December 2013, <http://hypervision.nl/>

Bibliography:

Minda, Z. 1992, Young Managers Face a Generation Gap, Management Review, vol. 81, no. 2,  pp. 10.

Starnes, B.J., Truhon, S.A. & McCarthy, V. 2010, A Primer on Organizational Trust, Human Development and Leadership Devision, pp. 1-15.

Westfield Wright Communication and Research, 2012, Attitudes to older workers, Westfield Wright Communication and Research, viewed 20 December 2013, < http://www.fsc.org.au/downloads/uploaded/2012_3001_older%20workers_report_4464.pdf>

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