Investing in a partnership leads to better client outcomes
Thursday, 5 November 2020 | Posted in: Most Recent, News | 6min read
Thursday, 5 November 2020 | Posted in: Most Recent, News | 6min read
In most parts of Australia we are beginning to see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. By no means is it all finished, the world will likely never be the same again – but we are mostly back in our offices, playing sport and socialising albeit under different house rules.
The Digital Embassy, like many businesses, braced for the worst but has in fact emerged stronger than ever. This was in large part assisted by the number of resilient, long-term client relationships that have enabled our agency to see out the initial period of disruption and continue to recover and grow.
In this blog we wanted to share why we think investing in long-term agency relationships is not only good for agencies like ours, but will also lead to better outcomes for clients.
The early stages of the Coronavirus shutdown saw a massive increase in the amount of day-to-day work that needed doing. Preparing the digital assets to be managed remotely, converting the website into an eCommerce platform, updating server infrastructure and security all take time.
Normally, projects can be staggered to fit around internal resources but with hard lockdown deadlines looming, agency outsourcing became a great way to rapidly increase resources.
Our long-term clients already knew our capabilities and could quickly send us work to do, large or small that freed up their internal teams. Two marketing/digital/IT departments working in parallel essentially created the time needed to get everything done.
Without an established agency partner in place the efficiencies gained could never be as great or painless. Instead of quickly activating a second team, time needs be spent bringing new resources up to speed before they can be let loose on projects. Even then, new resources require constant attention and oversight to make sure they remain on task and achieve the set outcomes.
It seems counter-intuitive to say a partner who charges for their services, say through a maintenance or service agreement, can save you money, but it is true.
A long-term partnered agency engaged with such an agreement has defined roles and responsibilities that establish accountability. This typically means they must work proactively to anticipate and take measures necessary to avoid or reduce the chance of costly issues occurring in the first place.
In the event of issues occurring the risk to your company is not left to chance, but managed through an agreed set of processes and procedures reflected in the agreement, adding an extra layer of security and governance needed for any growing enterprise to flourish.
By investing in long-term relationships with your agency partners, their ability to anticipate and respond to your needs is made significantly more effective based on their pre-existing knowledge of your enterprise and having the right skilled resources ready to act. Without this history and experience to draw from it would have been near impossible to work as quickly, effectively and provide as comprehensive a solution.
Working with only internal teams, or with external teams on individual projects, has a tendency to turn you into an ‘order giver’ and the agency into an ‘implementer’. Agreeing to work with an agency long-term, however, requires an act of trust in the ability of the agency to deliver solutions to your business needs and problems.
Long-term, trust-filled, relationships have two major advantages for the client:
The second point is an important one as this is only possible with mutual trust. Over time, the investment in long-term relationships with your agency partners means you’ll spend less time telling them how to solve the day-to-day issues and instead spend more time discussing more strategic, value-driving activities and providing innovative solutions.
Good long-term relationships do not simply appear overnight, they take time on behalf of both client and agency to develop. Also, not all agencies use or understand partnership models, instead opting for a more transactional style of approach.
Building a long-term relationship whether that be in business, or in your personal life requires an investment in time at the start to get to know each other and understand expectations. An agency partner will typically request any new relationship start with discovery exercises or workshops. This will usually include all key stakeholders to discuss your organisation’s requirements, vision and goals and how they can be met.
These strategic sessions are important to build rapport and share a deeper understanding of the driving factors that will ultimately lead to better decision making, solutions and outcomes. On a more personal level, these early strategy sessions also give you, and your team, the opportunity to build personal, as well as professional, relationships with the agency partner staff members who will be working on your account and projects.
While all parties are looking to build a positive working relationship it is also important as humans to recognise that most long-term business relationship will often be underpinned by lasting positive experiences on a personal level.
All relationships can experience challenges and difficulties. While there are many facets to maintaining long-term relationships through accountability frameworks a continued commitment to implementing good communication systems and methods is key to most of them.
Setting the expectations of what you expect from your agency partner early on in terms of formal and informal communication will provide the confidence and certainty required to keep everything progressing towards the desired outcomes.
At The Digital Embassy we find a mixture of formal and informal communication helps to ensure there is flexibility and clarity in communication. Problems arising in projects, milestones, scope or budgets can become very uncomfortable to bring up but by simply discussing these things regularly it can help all parties to understand their roles, responsibilities and expectations. Should things need to be changed it can be done quickly and easily without further disruption.
The best way to jump into a fruitful agency partnership is just to start. Even if you do not have a specific project in mind, with a longer-term outlook in mind it’s worth investing a little bit of time today to discuss what the future might hold with your agency partner.
Are you looking for a digital agency partner?
Get in touch with the team at The Digital Embassy to discuss how we can provide the strategic advice, design and development support and ongoing hosting services that will help you scale your business online.