Account management is really about sharing success
Mash offers a lot of cool digital marketing services, but our real killer app is not digital at all. It’s not even commercial. It’s not even really ‘business’.
The glue that holds Mash together is spending time with our clients and friends. We’re there talking, listening, advising, understanding and empathising – being genuinely interested in you. Other businesses label this sort of account management as “customer service”. Thing is, customer service is a bit of an empty term these days. “Customer care” too – people hear that and get visions of the glossy brochures insurance companies randomly stuff in their mail box.
At Mash, our account management practices aren’t formalised in policies, handbooks and guidelines. Instead our ‘policy’ is simple, plain and zero-buzz: we help out people we’ve come to know.
Friendships aren’t competitive
At Mash, we’re just being ourselves. Turns out, that might actually be best practice. Here’s a quote from Micah Solomon at Forbes.com
Customers don’t care about customer service. At least, not exactly. What they care about is something a little different: They care about the feelings, the results, the impressions, the memories that come from being well served, poorly served, or that beige area in the middle.
Being a media agency, Mash is not like businesses that interact with their clients only for the few seconds it takes to complete a transaction. We work with our clients and friends closely – sometimes for years. It is a real relationship and we actually like the people we work with. Many of them become genuine, non-business friends. Take the approach of our National Account’s Manager Jo Lewkowski. She loves her job because it puts her in the box seat to watch people achieve their dreams.
“I love helping clients grow their businesses to better provide for their own goals,” Jo says.
“If you are doing things for the right reasons – when you just like helping people personally – people also like helping you back.”
Our people, your people
This view that customers are people first and foremost is reinforced because nearly every Mash Media staffer has run their own businesses: so we’re all businesspeople and our social circles are full of businesspeople too – people with projects that fire them up, ideas that fascinate them and the inability to sit still that caught hard looks from their school teachers.
With all Mash’s in-house skills, we’re able help our customer and friends with certain aspects of the cool things they’re doing. So we do.
To get to that point first means getting to know each other. The information flow must be mutual:
- We need to know what you want.
- You need to know what we’re good at.
- Do lock-in contracts harm customer service?
Here’s one customer service rule we do have: no lock-in contracts. This really matters to us. We’ve seen other digital marketers who’ve got all these amazing skills but their clients just don’t feel important. We believe lock-in contracts are part of the problem.
When you work by contract, it makes everything you do conditional to that contract. Feel like sending a customer a birthday card just because it is nice thing to do? Well, if you have a lock-in contact with them, there’s a good chance they’ll wonder if you’re billing them for the time it took you to write the card. Not to say lock-in contracts aren’t useful sometimes, but they also put a ceiling on the level of trust and strength any relationship can develop. Inflexibility curbs mutuality. Also, because contracts are always running out, they also put an artificial limit not just on it’s depth but also on expectations of its continuity.
Because Mash Media works on a person-to-person level – rather than say a phone-company-to-consumer level – lock-in contracts just don’t make any sense for us.
What you do, not what you say
Think about the customer care policies you’ve read: “We provide industry-leading, best-practice customer service through adhering to nominated conduct policies at a holistic level.” That’s not how you talk about people you care about. That’s not how you talk about your friends. That’s how businesses talk about people they’re trying to manipulate.
What about this as a policy: “Let’s make our clients happy”. It is clear, adaptable and easy to follow. Being broad, it can guide all sorts of decisions in a responsive way, rather than force them to be undertaken by a pre-ordained procedure.
Care cannot be a KPI
What we’re driving at is that care is not a result – it is a practice. An account manager can never move it into their “out” tray as a deliverable.
Care is always in the in-trays of all the people involved in a strong relationship.
Making our customers feel good is it’s own reward because they’re also our friends. We also feel good knowing we don’t have to justify that feeling.
Our SEO Strategist Rebecca Caldwell has seen it from both sides when one person going above and beyond for a customer lifts the reputation of the whole business.
“I like that at Mash anyone of us in empowered to go the extra mile whenever we want,” Rebecca says.
“We don’t outsource anything. If the client has been dealing with us personally, we’ll always be there as the person they’ll get when they contact us.”
The most important bit
Mash does a lot of pretty specialised and technical things for its customers, but the most important thing we do is put it all together for you. Various places call this account management, advisory or consulting. These places also tend to have long customer service policies full of buzzwords.
At Mash, we just “help out people we’ve come to know”. The Mash Media account management practice and customer care policy doesn’t need to say anything more than that. Anyone at Mash operating under a different vibe would stand out like a sore thumb.
Get to know Mash today. Doesn’t matter if you’re not looking for a high-end digital marketing campaign, just say hello. Talk soon. Ciao.