How Bad Service Screws Ad Agencies

How A Client’s Bad Service Screws Ad Agencies

download bThis is a post about how ad agencies are at the mercy of their clients. I am talking about how agencies can be the victims of clients that do not deliver on their brand, product, and service promises. How the client’s, not the agency’s, bad service can ultimately kill a good client relationship.

A Poor Service Story

I recently made a mistake when setting up a bank transfer using Bank Of America’s online money transfer service. The money went to an intermediary account at Bank Of New York, instead of the actual person I was sending the money to, and I wanted to get it back. I thought that this would be a relatively easy fix. Not!

To make a multi-day bad service story short, I called Bank Of America’s customer service and they passed me on to the bank’s money transfer department. The transfer department’s phone rang for minutes. I tried again. They did not pick up. I called customer service back to make sure I was sent to the right phone number. I was and went through the same no-pick-up routine. I gave up. Note, I am doing all of this from a foreign country, which makes the calling a bit more difficult as I have to modify any 800 or 888 numbers to make these calls.

I tried the whole process again the next day but would not let the customer service rep off the line when she passed me to the money transfer department. Again, they didn’t pick up. The customer service rep couldn’t believe that our call went on ringing. I told her that I couldn’t take this anymore, was fed up and wanted to get off the line. But,she made a big service mistake. She did not note my level of frustration and did not offer her name and contact information for me to follow up and did not ask for mine. Poor service management by the bank.

Later that day I called my Portland bank branch directly and asked for the manager. She told me that she would take care of the transfer mistake for me. I didn’t hear back. I called back the next day and was told that she was working on it and would call back. But, nada.

The next day, I bypassed “customer service” by going to Google and called a random branch in New York. A man answered, wondered how I reached him and after I explained the problem, told me that I had reached the right guy and that he would take care of everything. He took my contact information, sent me a follow-up email and a day later told me that the money would be returned to my account. This was efficient and cool. So cool, I emailed his boss about what a great job he did for me. I know the email arrived because I copied the praised employee. Did I ever get a thanks for the kudos from the boss? Something I always did when one of my agency employees got praise from clients? No. I am now convinced that Bank of America has no customer focus.

When Your Clients Suck, You Suck… Or, The Failure of Performance-Based Compensation

Mbdc3abbdd71003e1bf7dc4ef531f52d4Bank Of America spends millions with a few advertising agencies on marketing that is designed to get good long-term customers exactly like me. In fact, these agencies are judged by their client’s success. In many cases, agencies are compensated (or kept around) based on their client’s overall sales growth.

However, in many (most) agency relationships, the agencies have no control of their client’s product, packaging, actual service, customer service, retail experiences, UX (online user experience), loyalty programs and on. Most often, all we can do is to get the customer to the door or shelf be it brick and mortar or digital.

What does this have to do with performance-based compensation? A lot.

OK digerati, I have been in the Internet / tech business since 1995. I get that you think that data rules and that (sort of) everything can now be measured – leading to a wonderful world where performance-based compensation actually works. But, it can’t. Ad agencies cannot control the total user / customer experience. This is ever more true in today’s multiple touch-point-world.

OK digerati, I have been in the Internet / tech business since 1995. I get that you think that data rules and that (sort of) everything can now be measured – leading to a wonderful world where performance-based compensation actually works. But, it can’t. Ad agencies cannot control the total user / customer experience. This is ever more true in today’s multiple touch-point-world.

What To Do? Get Your AE Out Of The Office.

I could say that this beats the fuck out of me. Like, you will never have any control of the client’s website UX or its packaging (see why Nike made me sell my own ad agency) or you name it.

But, I do recommend that you train your account executives to get beyond today’s specific tasks or ad strategy to act like her client’s customer. As a customer, the AE should fully understand her client’s customer journey (OK, yes a totally hackneyed term) – but just do it. This AE should report back to the agency and client. This is what 1980’s AE’s did. Remember store checks? In the Mad Men era, store checks sent AE’s to far off grocery stores to actually look at and live the customer experience — and, yes, go have after-store-check drinks.

This actual customer experience is what agency management needs to know the next time they sit down with their clients and discuss everyone’s successes and failures.

In this sit-down, the agency will have the ammo to show that it wasn’t what they did that put the brakes on sales.

Bank Of America’s Failure And Capital One

cI am moving my account from Bank Of America to Capital One. In addition to being on the ball, they appear to be adding and adjusting their service daily. Here’s my initial experience.

Capital One’s online UX is cleaner and clearer = better.

They have a brand new bank transfer service called P2P and it is — free. B OF A’s isn’t. Capital One, unlike B Of A, looks like it is responding to the new world of fintech – “Financial technology, also known as fintech, is an economic industry composed of companies that use technology to make financial services more efficient.”

They pick up the phone.

Their customer service sounds and acts like a friend. I cannot imagine that this isn’t planned. Call them to see what I mean.

Finally, a very simple but, smart move. Cap One recognizes that over ten million Americans live overseas. And, that millions travel worldwide every day. They recognize this on their contact page by having a direct phone number for customers outside the USA. A very simple move. B Of A… not.

 

 

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