You know the old adage “the customer is always right”… right? Wrong!
Worst still is if the customer thinks he is always right.. or is treated as if he is always right. Right? Right.
You see, so many customers and suppliers (and I too sometimes find myself in customer mode and at other times in supplier mode) fail to value their relationship enough. It is one of convenience. I thankfully have clients who appreciate they don’t know it all. They also appreciate the fact that I don’t know it all. They know this because I tell them… and because sometimes its obvious. But like in all relationships there is give and take, more experience in a certain area on one side and more experience on another. The point is that our business relationship is improved and optimised by the fact that both parties bring their expertise to the table and work together to reach consensus… a road map. There is trust.
Therein lies success. The antithesis to this success? The kowtowing to the customer which leads to a dismantling of commitment, vision, creativity and proactivity within the supplier agency. Something which starts at the top and rots away at an agency and those who work on the account. It gets to a point where account managers daren’t move… and trust me… they make the day to day decisions on your account. Not the boss!
If you recognise a lack of these things in your business relationship question its structure. Are you too dominant? Or does your supplier force this upon you and hide behind it (much safer that way isn’t it?).
I have always thought that a good litmus test is to observe whether your agency head would take your side or the side of their own account manager working on your account (this obviously doesn’t include sexual flirting with you partner on IM, selling your trade secrets to competitiors or bad body odour). If they always take your side then you need to question how committed they are to a mutually respectful relationship. How much they value the staff they put on your account (today and in the past). How committed are they in ensuring an environment of vision, creativity and proactivity around your account?
Next time demand from your agency that you are treated as if you’re not always right. Right? Right.