I’ve recently returned from holiday. It was brilliant and, once we were there, we had wonderful service from the people looking after us.
But the experience leading up to our departure, from the minute we paid our deposit to the moment we left for the airport, was terrible. It really reminded me of something that I take for granted working for Liberty – that good customer service is not a nice-to-have or a luxury, it should be the bedrock of any service industry.
I won’t bore you with the details of the seemingly endless list of complaints I have about the owner of the company we booked with, but it’s safe to say that, once she had secured our business, all niceties shot out of the window and she treated us like a problem to be dealt with – to the point where I wasn’t looking forward to going away, which I really resented! We generally had to chase her on responses to our questions, she brought business issues that she was facing to our door as if it was our job to solve them and correspondence was a constant list of things we weren’t allowed to do during our stay that generally ended in a request for more money in order to ‘augment’ our service. And it’s not like we hadn’t paid enough in the first place… but I’ll stop there because I can feel my rant coming on!
Maybe I found this particularly frustrating because I used to work in the travel industry, and because customer service is so central to all our dealings with clients at Liberty, whether they’re prospective, a couple of months into a retainer or have been with us for years. Six years ago when I started working here I remember being educated on ‘the Liberty Way’ of doing things, which centred around proactivity, attention to the client’s needs, maintaining exceptional standards at all levels of account activity and adding the personal touch.
I’m happy to say that that ethos is still alive and well today. If anything, it’s even more central to what we do in these times of budget constraints and cutbacks in which we need to stand out from the crowd when it comes to retaining and securing business. Indeed, I don’t think there are many agencies of our size that have a dedicated client services director who monitors client sentiment and ensures regular six monthly reviews are conducted to ensure client objectives and creativity are maintained.
Good client service is the life blood of a business like ours. We want clients to enjoy working with us and to treat us as an extension to their own team. It means that we’re proud to count many clients as repeat customers who choose us when they move from one company to another, or are happy to recommend us to other industry contacts. We’ve also had clients who have chosen to change agency only to come back to us months later because the service they received elsewhere wasn’t up to scratch. Some have even become friends.
Maybe we could teach my holiday contact a thing or two – she certainly won’t be getting any repeat business or recommendations out of me!