working towards great client service

Archive for the category “Effective Communication”

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)


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.


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:



(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


Darryl Ohrt, (Oct 12 2010) Advertising Age,, 02/05/2014

Monica Morelos, (22 March 2012 ) ClientManagementvn,, 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.


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.


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

Word Count: 660


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


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


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


“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

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

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)



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, <;


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.


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.


 Interview with Mr. Vo Hung Dung – Director of VCCI

(Taken by author’s friend)


Word Count: 626 (Not include Title and Captions)


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, <;



Keep calm and ‘help’ clients to climb the loyalty ladder

Written by Nguyen Tra Giang – s3397586

In today’s modern and dynamic life, people tend to hastily chase their passions and desires, companies often focus on mass production and how to increase revenue quickly, whether patiently nurture and maintain a long-term relationship with clients is still important?

Figure 1 : A long term client/agency relationship is priceless , you can't buy or sell it, you just can use a strategic process to reach it. Source (Sallyhogshead 2013)

Figure 1 : A long term client/agency relationship is priceless , you can’t buy or sell it, you just can use a strategic process to reach it. Source (Sallyhogshead 2013)

“Forget about pushing products, you will never be able to sell your products to anyone if you do not have trust and support from loyal customers”, Bao asserts with a resolute tone of a young man who is an Account Executive in Planning & Sale Dept of Petrovietnam Southern Gas (PSG). After a year being responsible for client servicing and client acquisition, Bao concludes that building a successful client relationship is a whole challenging yet exciting journey, which requires you to cultivate knowledge to construct specific approaching strategies and develop a professional communication skill. Regarding to this topic, I and Bao would agree that Loyalty Ladder is an ideal marketing relationship concept for assessing the degree of client loyalty.

Figure 2 : The loyalty ladder is a relationship marketing concept that sees customers gradually moving up through relationship levels(Managing Service Quality 2000)

Figure 2 : The loyalty ladder is a relationship marketing concept that sees customers gradually moving up through relationship levels(Managing Service Quality 2000)

“The power of first impression”

The bottom rung of the loyalty ladder is an important part as it is the foundation to reach loyal clients. “There are always new clients in the crowded market who come to your business for the first time. Make the first visit remarkable and everything else (loyalty, advocacy, trust) will possibly come after” (Beverland, Farrely & Woodhatch 2007). For Bao, when client is in the first ladder – Prospect, patience is the key. He asserts that without appropriate qualifications of prospect, you will fall down at the first rung. “Don’t make your sale pitch early because you might be 80% immediately ignored. Be patient and save it until you both know clearly about others”, Bao warns. With my question of how to shorten the distance with client at the first rung, Bao suggests that creating personal relationship is a solution. He often takes advantages of networking events or existing relationships or even tries to invite clients to his friend cycle to get a better understanding about them. “Best time to professionally give clients a relevant pitch is when you research adequate information about their current situation and find out why your products is compulsory for them”, Bao advices.

Figure 3 : The best way to build loyalty down the road is to focus on loyalty and commitment on the first rung - Prospect . Try to carefully research about clients and impress them in the first meet conversation . Source (Chronos-studeos 2013).

Figure 3 : The best way to build loyalty down the road is to focus on loyalty and commitment on the first rung – Prospect . Try to carefully research about clients and impress them in the first meet conversation . Source (Chronos-studeos 2013).

Know and love your client’s business as much as they do

Now you already got clients to use your products in the stage Acquaintance and are on your way to move them to a higher rung – Steady Supporter. However, “you may lose your clients to the competitors anytime if you just leave them with the products and get lost”, Bao emphasizes. He encourages future client managers to pay more attention on client’s business so you can consistently exceed their expectations. For instance, PSG mainly distributes liquefied petroleum gas, besides selling products, Bao always actively give clients advices, suggest them promising projects and update gas/oil price as well as educate them about the market .Focusing on product and client services helps to retain existent and increase word-of-mouth (Davies & Prince 1999).

Figured 3: Clients are just like us. They want to be cared and supported. Love them and they will love you back. Source , (Steph , 2012)

Figured 3: Clients are just like us. They want to be cared and supported. Love them and they will love you back. Source , (Steph , 2012)

“Relationship is like a brand: you have to invest in it, and understand that it gets built over time” (Solomon 2008).

Figure 4. Invest effort, passion and knowledge to build a strong and long-term relationship. Source, (

Figure 4. Relationship is like a brand, you have to invest effort, passion and knowledge to build a strong and long-term relationship. Source, (

Relationship commitment will be driven to the top rungs – Advocate and Trusted Partner when agency constantly improve their proposed solution and willingly try new approaches. Bao proudly smiles while mentioning about Petrolimex and Shell Gas Vietnam, the two most loyal clients that he has put much effort to move them through each ladder. Before we end the conversation and get back to the hustle life, Bao reminds that client retention is more important than acquisition because 80% benefit come from the existing clients. By maintaining a stable relationship with them, you not only able to sell more products but also raise your reputation because your loyal clients will give positive reviews about you to others. “You’ll possibly get new clients and remember to keep calm and ‘help’ them to climb each loyalty ladder all over again. Good luck”, Bao winks.

Figure 5: (1) Nguyen Thai Bao ' s business card . (2) Nguyen Thai Bao and Nguyen Tra Giang is enjoying their talk about client management in Papa coffee. (3) Nguyen Thai Bao ' s business photo . Image collaged by author.

Figure 5: (1) Nguyen Thai Bao’s business card. (2) Nguyen Thai Bao and Nguyen Tra Giang are enjoying their talk about client management in Papa coffee. (3) Nguyen Thai Bao’s business photo. Image edited by author.

Word count: 664

Beverland, M., Farrelly, F. & Woodhatch, Z. 2007, “Exploring the Dimensions of Proactivity within Advertising Agency-Client Relationships”, Journal of Advertising, vol. 36, no. 4, pp. 49-60.

Davies, M. & Prince, M. 1999, “Examining the longevity of new agency accounts: A comparative study of U.S. and U.K. advertising experiences”, Journal of Advertising, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 75-89.

Solomon, R. 2008, “Great Work Wins Business; a Great Relationship Keeps It”,The Art of Client Service, Kaplan Publishing, New York, pp. 97-99

Company’s brand or… personal brand?

Author: Hoang Thi Tra My

Snumber: s3393385

To survive in business competitions, let alone thrive, you must sell personal branding first, and then company’s brand and services.

As you are a rookie with a small network of colleagues, clients and consumers, industry is a fierce battlefield for you. Thus, you need an exclusive weapon to defeat a thousand of enemies. It called personal branding. In the article “The brand called you”, Peter (1997) claims that personal branding describes who you are and make you different from your competitors. It is built by your own powers which are characteristics, intelligence and knowledge. Linking to client management, personal branding is often used as word – of – mouth sell to attract clients and make them remember you at the first meeting, then your company.

So, how do we practice personal branding in a right way? The question is solved in my interview with Ms. Phan, she friendly shares her own experience of building long – term relationships with client by applying personal branding.


Figure 1: Ms. Phan Bich Ngoc (left) . Photo taken by the author (2013)

Ms. Phan Bich Ngoc is a 16 – years – experienced sale managers in Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK) – a science – led global Healthcare and Medicines Company (GSK 2013). Although it is reputed brand in the world, it appears in Vietnam for only 18 years. GSK needs to enhance the awareness of its brand among Vietnamese people through doctors. Therefore, her mission is to introduce GSK pharmaceuticals to Vietnamese doctors and build a strong relationship with them.

According to Payne et al (1998) (cited in Little & Marandi 2003), building client relationship is a process as we climb a ladder. This includes three major phases which are prospect, developing and establish. In developing phase, client managers will demonstrate the distinctive and needed products and its benefits to client (Little & Marandi 2003). This mostly depends on the quality of goods. In contrast, prospective phase need communication skills and personal branding to catch clients; and establish is to maintain the relationship by offering much higher rewards.

Agreeing with ladder concept, Ms. Phan states that establish is a main mission; but for her, prospect phase is most important to create a satisfied impression to client. “I think the most challenge is client catching. In the first meeting, I must ensure that I create interest and attraction when I sell who I am. This makes doctors intend to talk with me every next times. Therefore, I have chance to introduce pharmaceuticals and its advances” she said.

She continually shares her experiences to build strong relationships with client through personal branding.

You are the face of the company

In very early times, clients do not know about company’s brand or product quality; however, they know client managers who communicate with them firstly. So, managers’ performance represents their companies. If clients are lured by them, they will appreciate the companies. “Clients can like your voices, your characteristics or even your smile; so you have to maintain your image because you are the face of the company” Ms. Phan assumed. This tip is for prospect step.

Remember your clients are human beings

Going to the highest steps, the clients need higher rewards. Ms. Phan claims that the rewards may not necessarily profit; it can be care.  She explains that although GSK do not have much incentive for doctors, she concerns little things in their daily lives such as birthday cards and New Year messages. All of small care makes them be happy because they are human beings. As a result, to maintain a close relationship, client managers have to treat their clients as similar as their lovers.

(596 words)


GSK 2013, ‘Vietnam’, posted 6 August, viewed 30th December 2013, <>.

Little .E & Marandi .E 2003, Relationship marketing management, Thomson Learning, London.

Peters .T 1997, ‘The brand called you’, Fast Company, 31 August, viewed 30th December 2013, <>.

Phan, Bich Ngoc 2013, interview, 21st December 2013.

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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