The press is full of accounts on the move, but seldom do they address:
- Accounts that stay married;
- The value of maintaining accounts vs. looking for new ones;
- The need (and techniques) to maintain a productive agency relationship to keep both the client and agency appreciating one another; or
- Not losing an account is equivalent to winning one.
Focusing on keeping clients happy vs. replacing them makes good business sense and strategy. Furthermore, some research indicates that it is less costly to maintain an account than seek its replacement.
Developing agency/client relationship management programs isn't brain surgery:
- Be preventative not reactive;
- Flesh out "surprises" before the business heads into review or moves to another agency; and
- Aggressively address potential disruptions.
For example, one disrupter is a poorly designed compensation agreement or lack of profitability. Without appropriate compensation, the agency won’t provide the right resources. This will eventually lead to a fatalistic feeling on the part of the agency that they just can’t do the job properly or the client feeling that the agency just can’t do the job.
Relationship management requires monitoring, problem identification, intervention, an open mind at both the client and agency and the mutually agreed upon objective of maintaining the account relationship and averting its potential loss.
A happy agency usually deploys its best resources against the client’s need. At least it should. And in doing so it should likely be delivering highly satisfying results for its client. If so it should remain an "account not lost."
Most agencies consider keeping the client happy as their most important job...so, who at the agency (and client) is responsible to make sure the relationship is in good shape?
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