Cella Consulting and Relationship Audits and Management (RAM) recently published the PartnerPulse™ Aggregate Results Report, in which we compared and contrasted the results of in-house groups with the results of external agencies.
More specifically, PartnerPulse is a tool for in-house creative teams to measure client feedback across 13 key performance indicators (KPIs) and 10 qualitative questions. In-house teams can also benchmark their performance against other in-house teams, as well as external agencies across those same KPIs.
We were quite pleased by the overall results, but were a little stumped by the one KPI in which external agencies scored significantly higher than in-house groups on attitude.
Survey takers (in-house clients) were asked to “score the creative team’s “attitude” on a 1 to 7 scale in which 1 is “unacceptable,” 4 is “meets expectations,” and 7 is “regularly exceeds expectations.” Attitude was described as the creative team being “helpful, flexible, empathetic, passionate, and striving to ensure client needs are addressed.”
After some thought it’s understandable how in-house teams scored lower than external agencies. In-house clients are also our colleagues, which at first makes you think we would treat them even better. But we are probably more forthright with our feedback and concerns than an external agency with profits on the line. In addition, when we are asked to work late or on weekends, we aren’t necessarily being paid more or our department profiting like an external agency would, therefore we are more likely to push back or ask “why?” which may lead our internal clients to score us lower on attitude.
Another potential reason for in-house teams scoring lower in this category is that 56% of in-house creative teams do not have any form of dedicated account management. At external agencies, clients work through and with the support of an account manager who is dedicated to being perceived as helpful, flexible, empathetic, etc. And most in-house teams with dedicated account management ask their AMs to be project managers as well, limiting their ability to provide superior customer service to internal clients.
Regardless of why external agencies score better (5.5 vs. 5.1 on the 7-point scale), there’s a key takeaway to be noted: client service should be consistent area of focus and attention for in-house teams. As a community we rarely say “no,” rather we say “whoa.” And it’s all how you say “whoa” that impacts how you are perceived.
Like what you read here? InHOWse Designer Blog contributor Ed Roberts will be giving a live, webinar presentation on how to supercharge your in-house team on July 24 – sign up today!
Jackie Schaffer, Vice President and General Manager of Cella Consulting, is a former in-house leader who has consulted for teams of all sizes, including Fortune 500 clients, government entities and educational institutions and has the unique opportunity to speak with hundreds of creative leaders each year. Cella helps creative leaders and their teams identify and execute strategic priorities, so they can increase their effectiveness and focus on creating high-quality creative.