Agency Client Services

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Taren Grom, Editor

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We asked our agency executives to evaluate what they believe have been the biggest shifts in client service in the past five years. We also asked them to project what they believe the client service role will encompass in the next fiveyears. HOWDOYOUMANAGECLIENTCHALLENGES? DUNN. VOX MEDICA. Time is, and always has been, the enemy. The rise of information technology and the expansion of readily available information on the Internet were meant to help solve some of our time woes. And while we have been able to stream line certain activities, our clients are faced with increasing demands that far outstrip the savings afforded by technology. They spend their days running between meetings and managing dozens of projects spread among various agencies or other part ners. They no longer have the time to devote to managing any given project or to ensure that all of the moving parts fit togeth er neatly without overlap. These time constraints are similarly affecting client services. Client service historically has existed in the space between the agency and the client: when with our clients, we are charged with representing the views of the agen cy; when back at the agency, we are charged with representing the views of our clients. As our clients become less available in the face of evercompressing timelines, client service personnel find themselves at risk of upsetting the delicate balance of their position and assuming the client perspective too strongly. This shift facilitates the completion of projects, but can inhibit the creativity on which we pride ourselves. Over the past five years, we have seen client service personnel and agencies struggle to find their way to a workable position in this changing dynamic. Our work will always be about negotiating the best possible solu tion. We believe in the next five years client service personnel will need to redefine their positions and focus, and address issues SPECIAL FEATURE CLIENT SERVICES # BY TAREN GROM PharmaVOICE is pleased to publish this special feature showcasing the agency executives who are charged with fostering the allimportant workings of the client/agency relationship. A SUCCESSFUL PARTNERSHIP CAN LEADTOBRAND SUCCESS. Conversely, dysfunction among team members can prevent a brand from achieving its best results in the market. # ore than 25 advertising executives reveal their client service secrets: what it takes to keep clients happy;how this important discipline is changing with the times; and who the “client” is. M ONTHE CLIENT’S SIDE NANCYBEESLEY HC&B Healthcare Communications The demand to create original conceptual thinking is very high, yet most clients don’t want to wait very long for it. It’s not a criticism of clients, per se, but rather an expectation set by quicker and quicker delivery by agencies that want to keep clients satisfied in an era of realtime everything. # 30 Ap r i l 2008 PharmaVOICE # 0408 Layout FINAL MW 3/21/08 11:43 AM Page 30 vices role will expand to encompass an even greater knowledge of all media channels, including digital, as clients look to ensure their marketing strategy is cohesive across all message touchpoints. SCHULTZ. MENTUS. There has been an increased role in consultative services sur rounding regulatory issues, launch strategies, and brand management. Clients depend on seniorlevel talent to play a very handson role. I believe this is the case because the number of companies commercializing products is increasing and many companies have not yet brought that talent inhouse. Over the next five years, I see a continued need for higher levels of consultative services. MELLAS.WISHBONE. The biggest shift over the past five years has been the growing pressure to deliver the same superior service at lower cost. Even with clients who are pleased with an agency’s work, the emphasis is on how much more can they get for less. Cost pressures will continue, but clients will hit the wall on how much further they can squeeze costs without impact ing the quality of the product or thinking. RALSTON. MEDERGY. The biggest shift has been to provide a more sophisticated service that delivers greater value, however a client may choose to define that, at essentially the same purchase price as five years ago. From the agency side this means the role has become broader and more demanding, and, more than SPECIAL FEATURE # CLIENT SERVICES as a neutral third party that considers the per spectives of the client and the agency. We must become “solutions managers,” not “client services.” This next shift may be the best thing we can do to serve our clients effec tively. BEESLEY.HC&BHEALTHCARE. The biggest shift is the marked change in the amount of time given to complete any project. What used to be expected in two to three weeks now is expected in two to three days. The advent of technology has made those of us in advertising much more efficient in getting deliverables to clients faster and faster. The challenge that we now face is the expectation that the creative process is somehow shortened as well. Client services is now having to negotiate enough time from the onset of a project while defining for the clients what they can expect. I think this expectation, and the role of the client ser vices professional, will continue to shift into quicker turnarounds and faster results. LANNINO. SUDLER & HENNESSEY. Even as little as five years ago, the speed and flow of infor mation changed the business dramatically. Constant communication and availability are expected 24/7. In many cases, the speed of communication and required response times have left agencies with little room to think. Unfortunately, this affects the thinking that goes into the strategic planning and creative execution that make an agency unique. Addi tionally, the role of the patient as a key decision maker and even influ encer has evolved over the last sev eral years. Developing patientori ented programs to meet their needs, address their concerns, and foster better dialogue with physi cians will be key to the ongoing success of patient communications. MAGNUSON. BRAND PHARM. There has been a shift to more of a project mentality while still expecting account ser vices to provide strategic direction, market knowledge, etc. Increasingly, clients are apply ing account service time against the creative projects for budgetary purposes while reduc ing “retainer” fees. In the future, the client ser THERE IS GROWING PRESSURETO DELIVER THE SAME SUPERIOR SERVICE AT LOWER COSTS;THIS IS ATREND THATWILL CONTINUE. RENEE MELLAS # MATTBROWN GSWWorldwide Client service teams that are communication channel agnostic can better serve their clients by not only recommending the most effective communication tools for their brands,but by providing guidance on how all of their communications will work together. # BRIAN DOHERTY Noesis Creating the strongest sense of shared ownership across the client/agency team generally comes after candid debate,but when that debate is grounded in a common understanding of brand vision and construct it will invariably prove healthy for the client/agency relationship and should lead to the strongest communication. # 31 PharmaVOICE Ap r i l 2 008 0408 Layout FINAL MW 3/21/08 11:43 AM Page 31 ever, client service is not only the responsibility of dedicated client service staff but the entire agency team. PERLOTTO. ADAIRGREENE. The biggest evolution has been in how clients define “client service” from their agencies. In recent years, many of the bigger pharma companies have scaled back on services procured from agencies; they tend to just look for big strategic ideas and big creative ideas, while assuming more and more of the execution and implementa tion internally. On the other hand, small to

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