Written by our production director, Kt:
We’ve heard it a million times: communication is the key to successful relationships – a rule that holds true in the agency world. Through the years, Phenomblue has benefitted from a boom in communication tools. Starting with the dominance of email, we’ve added video conferencing, Skype and Basecamp to our communication toolbox. This arsenal of tech-related tools allows our Production and Engagement teams to be as accessible and flexible when communicating with clients. And we’re not alone. Agencies and businesses of all types have evolved client communications. Basecamp alone touts more than 5 million users, 4 million projects and 46 million files. Yet at Phenomblue, we don’t hold quantity over quality, especially when it comes to client relationships.
Don’t get me wrong, we use Basecamp daily. Our Producers are in and out of Basecamp all day long, posting messages, checking off milestones, uploading files. But this is coupled with the practice of picking up the phone. You know, actually talking, real-time, voice-to-voice with clients and partners. It’s simply obeying one of the main tenets of advertising: match your medium to your message. And Basecamp (or other software or app based communication tools) aren’t always the right medium. Sometimes it makes the most sense to reach out one-to-one and have a conversation. And it takes people in a relationship to know when to post and when to call.
Relationships have a personal element to them, and for all their strengths, communication tools like Basecamp can’t replace the personal aspect. You wouldn’t date someone you only know through text messages, so why should a client settle for a Producer they only know from Basecamp posts or emails? We don’t think they should. Productive and collaborative communication is more than trading written messages. It’s listening. It’s asking questions. It’s affirming and challenging. And more often than not, conversation is the best way to do all of the above. It’s communicating with our clients because we care not just about what we have to say, but about what they have to contribute. As a whole, client services is a big conversation, and project communication shouldn’t be any different.
After all, there’s a lot to say about agencies that can’t be bothered to talk with their clients.