Mar 13, 2009

Team Interview: Giving Clients Something Extra

by: in LEAP

Keeping clients happy isn't just an aspiration at LEAP; it's a way of doing business. To discuss how LEAP keeps good client service front and center every day, we've gathered a roundtable of Client Services' finest: Account Managers Trish Pendleton, Heather Radford, and Lauren Pate, and Lori Druen, Vice President of Client Services.

How do you keep service a priority?

Trish Pendleton: It's something that's always top of mind. Staying in touch with our clients as much as we can. Replying to e-mails right away, even if they don't require a response, by sending a simple thank you. Making sure our clients know that we're constantly thinking about and working for them. These are just some of the ways we can give our clients that something extra.

Heather Radford: I think knowing your clients' business or industry and educating yourself about what they do is important. That way, when they have questions for you, you can answer them correctly in regards to their industry. It also helps to try and make a connection with them, even on a personal level, to help build a relationship.

Lauren Pate: It's really easy for service to be a priority for us because it's our focus and what we do all day, every day.

What makes what we do here at LEAP different from other agencies in terms of providing client service?

Trish: I think that at LEAP client needs are handled with more personal effort. We're more likely to bend over backwards to accommodate our clients than some larger agencies that I've worked at or heard about. This extra effort comes from how we feel about our clients. We consider them our partners, and their success is just as important to us as it is to them.

Lori Druen: We actually practice what we preach. We're committed to providing a high level of service, and anything less than that isn't acceptable. We are available to our clients whenever they need us. We don't shut down our accountability at 5 PM.

Heather: Each client gets their own very involved marketing, creative, and development teams. Client Services serves as the liaison between the client and the rest of the company but when we're talking about ideas or designs for a new project, all the client's teams sit around the table discussing how we're going to execute plans.

Lauren: We keep everyone in the loop. If I'm out and someone else in Client Services is going to follow up with a client I have, they know enough about the client that the client never feels as though it's somebody new who doesn't know anything about their account or project.

Heather: For our clients, no matter if it's Trish's client or my own, we become the voice inside and outside work for our clients. If someone on the street asks me what I do for a living, I'm very likely to talk about all of LEAP's clients rather than just the specific ones I work with. There's a lot of pride within all of us for all of our clients.

What were the driving forces that made us want to break from the norm of typical agency provided client service?

Lori: I think it started from our clients telling us that we were different. When I started hearing that, I decided to put even more focus on it because it was apparent that our bare minimum is a lot of other agencies' high point. I couldn't believe it personally, but it was feedback we received across the board.

Lauren: Right now you really need to set yourself apart from everyone else. The level of service we provide makes a big difference because everyone's trying to decide where to put their money. It's a much bigger deal if they feel like they have a team with them.

Heather: With our clients, we strive to be proactive as opposed to being reactive. We bring new ideas to the table all the time and question our clients about things - have you heard about this, have you thought about doing that. We aren't just order takers.

Trish: We just took a focus on always looking for and being open to ways of improvement. We also tell each other about things that worked well with our clients that might work for their clients. It's about professional development and making sure people within our department are always growing.

How have we gone the extra mile for our clients or even what we do each day that adds a little personal touch?

Lauren: We've gone to and helped out with some of our clients' events. We even help brainstorm ideas for these events. We're so up to speed on when these events occur that we can offer our clients help ahead of time. We also remember milestones in our clients' personal lives, like their birthdays or things their kids are doing. We think about those events and put them on our calendars because we know they matter to our clients, and they really matter to us.

Trish: We've helped plan one client's internal meeting. They actually reached out to us if we could lend any creative ideas for this meeting. They knew we were creative people, and they asked if we could share some thoughts to spice up what they had planned. It was really fun to help out, and the meeting was a success!

Heather: For some clients, we aren't just their liaison with LEAP's various departments. We're also their liaison with their other vendors.

Trish: The level of work we do is unlike anything I've ever seen. If an urgent request comes from a client, we'll work through lunch, work late, and work weekends to get it done. Our clients' urgent needs become our urgent needs. It's important to them, so it's important to us, too. We go above and beyond.

Some agencies have a lot of internal competition because teams are so focused on their clients and which team can get the most business or get a project out the door faster. Here it's not like that at all. All our clients get equal attention and service. It's not about competing - we're a team. The entire company wants to see all of our clients succeed, not just the ones we work on individually.