OPINION: JONES ON ... GOOD CLIENT SERVICE

For an industry which spends an inordinate amount of time in restaurants, it has often struck me that we could learn so much from the ways in which they treat their patrons, and yet we so often fail to do so.

For an industry which spends an inordinate amount of time in

restaurants, it has often struck me that we could learn so much from the

ways in which they treat their patrons, and yet we so often fail to do

so.



No, this is not an attempt to start an ’if Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO was

a restaurant, what would it be?’ competition. Instead it is a plea to

agencies to wake up and smell the espresso.



When you are out to lunch or dinner, the most important factors are the

way that you are treated and the ambience.



The food is almost always secondary to your enjoyment. If the soup was

lukewarm you would probably give the restaurant a second chance,

assuming that they were having an off night.



Would you, however, go back to a restaurant where the waiters were

surly, or where there was no atmosphere? Equally, would you recommend it

to anyone else?



The same is true of agencies. Increasingly, clients assume that the

agency they are using is capable of producing competent advertising (or

’integrated communications solutions’ to be politically correct).



But added to this, what they are really looking for is an agency where

they feel welcomed and valued as a customer rather than being dismissed,

or treated as an inconvenience.



How many times have you been to a restaurant with a reputation, only to

feel that they are doing you a favour by serving you?



Equally, ’we weren’t sure who was pitching to whom’ is a phrase I have

heard more than once about some agencies.



I was once told of an agency chief who went to the same restaurant every

day for two weeks. Every day he had to tell the same receptionist at the

restaurant who he was. As far as I know he hasn’t been back since. And

I’m sure that lesson was passed on to the people manning his

reception.



The best restaurants do not make you feel inadequate. How many times

have you had to ask about a particularly exotic-sounding dish on the

menu, only to discover that it is basically posh chicken stew? Are we

impressed by this? I think not.



And yet do we not do the same, introducing mystifying jargon to explain

our latest commercial and strategic insight, which often leaves the

client too embarrassed to ask for a translation?



For some, the reputation of a head chef can often be an inducement, but

we are not naive enough to think that he is actually making our

meal.



Clients have become equally aware. The days of being seduced by the

Pitch Dream Team are long gone. They want to meet the people who are

going to be serving them, day in, day out.



There are as many good restaurants as there are good agencies. The

client’s choice is as varied as the restaurant patron’s. Some of us

might try the latest trendy eaterie just to say we’ve been, but in the

end we will always return to those places where we feel most

welcome.



And, most importantly, we will pay the service charge happily.



Martin Jones is the managing director of the AAR.



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