Client-Agency Relationships: People at Heart


People are, and always will be, at the heart of every relationship, particularly between a client and their agencies. It is people who bring the drive, passion, talent and ‘human connection’ to an organisation and, therefore, it is so important that we continue to assess and optimise the way we all work together.

Our Flock Agency Appraisal Tool focuses on assessing four key aspects of a relationship, one being ‘People’. Having conducted Agency Appraisals for global clients such as Walmart, Toyota/Lexus and PepsiCo, we have developed our Flock Advertiser-Agency benchmark giving us a great insight into ‘People’, the current trends and common focus areas.

Covid-19 has boosted human connections

We have seen an interesting increase in ‘People’ scores during Covid-19. Despite the disruption and pressure on clients and their agencies, our need to stay at home has given us an unexpected insight into our colleagues lives and in turn has enabled closer connections to form. We have seen more empathy, proactiveness and openness being injected into the way we all work together and an increase in the need to think ‘outside of the box’. This has all in turn contributed to the need for greater focus on clear and regular communication, a consistent one-team mentality and full utilisation of resources and talent available. Something we have seen increase in our Agency Appraisal scores.

The balance of resource vs skills

Our ‘People’ specific benchmark data shows two key areas to be the lowest scoring across our clients, the first being capabilities. We often hear clients say they feel they have a lack of agency resource or that the right people are not brought in at the right time. On the other hand, we also hear some agencies say they feel they don’t have adequate interaction with senior leadership and are not provided with enough guidance. In some cases, more resource may help to tackle these issues and fill the gaps, however, often the focus should be on upskilling and ensuring that both the client and agency teams have resource with the right capabilities and competencies to deliver against the scope of work. As this is a common challenge our clients experience, we have developed our Flock Skills Assessment Tool to identify and fill marketing team skill gaps.

Equal focus on information sharing

The second key focus area emerging from our benchmark data is the need for agencies to identify critical issues earlier and act to find solutions. From our experience this issue is usually not due to a lack of willing but more so an issue in communication, inflexibility and information sharing. It is important that information is readily shared between client and agency, that the client provides efficient updates, information and guidance and that equally the agency thinks ahead, utilises learnings and prioritises innovative solutions. These solutions can sometimes be hindered by rigid processes and the need to follow a set way of working. Proactivity and clear communication is key to help reduce the impact of this on the client-agency relationship.

Like any relationship, the client-agency relationship requires work from both sides, continuous review and optimisation. We have seen our clients show 100% improvements in Agency Appraisal scores following assessment. It is, however, important that when you have access to data/information that you actively address the issues and strive to fill the current gaps. One of our clients recently shared “when we knew what the issues were, we used the data to have an open and honest conversation. Ever since that day we have seen a vast improvement on both sides of the relationship”

If you need help in assessing your relationship and bringing a more ‘human connection’ to your day to day work, please do get in touch.