Client Face-Time = Improved Engagement

While in San Franciso this week, I engaged in a li’l experiment. I purchased 50 mini-cupcakes from a gourmet bakery and called the staff in to an impromptu meeting. Revealing the delicious treats to my appreciative, sugar-addicted colleagues, I made this proposition:

“For every 1 idea you offer about how to improve Client Service or Agency Morale, you get 1 cupcake. More ideas = more cupcakes!” Then I passed out a stack of index cards. Within 10 minutes, the cupcakes were largely gone and I had a tidy stack of great ideas about how to make SHIFT a better organization.

Among the ideas that cropped up with unexpected frequency: the junior staff was requesting more face time with their clients.

“We’d like more in-person meetings with clients so that they have more opportunities to get to know us as people/personalities.”

“More face-to-face meetings with clients: these meetings always have a different vibe and can be more productive.”

“Too many meetings are staffed only by senior execs. More face-time for junior staff with clients will empower junior folks (and give them a better sense of the client’s business and personal priorities), increase SHIFT’s overall relationships with clients, and make us all better PR counselors as we ‘learn in the moment.’”

Hard to argue with this line of thinking. More opportunities to create client rapport can only be a good thing, and let’s face it — that rapport will likely produce more committed PR teams that strive for even better results.

That’s an idea worth a cupcake.

Posted on: May 7, 2010 at 8:05 am By Todd Defren
7 Responses to “Client Face-Time = Improved Engagement”


  • Collett says:

    I think giving staff an incentive to come up with ideas is a great idea. It’s almost like a motivation to produce improvement within a company. Chances are the staff had never had to come up with really beneficial ideas, and if cupcakes helps that happen, more power to it! Thanks for the post.

  • Avi H says:

    I think people have become so bound to social networking sites, emails and phone calls that they have lost sight of the importance of face to face meetings. I was going back and forth with a supplier and getting nowhere over telephone and email. One 90min meeting and we were back on track. I agree with junior staff getting more hands on. It empowers them to take charge and be creative. Can I have a cupcake?

  • I like giving ownership to the junior staff. They are trying to get their career started and having a say in what happens and how business is done is a great move.

  • kim KOLB says:

    While you can’t always meet face to face due to location issues… I agree. I hate selling, but if I am in front of someone or then I can do a bang up job. I need to see facial expressions to guage whether I am on the right track. Plus I am a people person so it is easier for me.

  • Josh Dyan says:

    Couldn’t agree more with your junior staff. As owner of a marketing firm in Toronto I can’t tell you how many projects have come to fruition simply by face to face meetings with clients and being in the right place at the right time. A little piece of advice for the “juniors”, less time “selling” and more time “listening” is the way to go. Listen for the needs and react with solutions in a timely manner. The early bird always gets the worm.

  • cOURTNEY says:

    The cupcake idea is fantastic! Kudos for that!

    And I think the junior staff’s desire to have face-to-face interaction with clients is another great idea!

    I currently work on the marketing side of publishing (to make ends meet until I can get my foot in the door at an ad/PR agency). I’ve noticed how much my current company relies on emailing clients (and each other in the same building!) and I feel like something is really lost when we choose to only through the computer. Whenever I get an email from a client who has a question, I’ve been making a point to actually CALL them back instead. It gives them a chance to know I’m not a robot, and I think it gives them more security to actually have an actual conversation with the people they’re giving their money too.

    I’d love to actually be able to sit down with them and talk face-to-face. However, I don’t have that luxury in my career (yet).

    I love your blog!

  • MIKE PILARZ says:

    Couldn’t agree more, Todd. Face-to-face meetings, however brief, force us to acknowledge each other’s humanity. Suddenly what was once just a voice on the other end of the telephone, a name on an email string or a AIM screen name becomes a living, breathing personality. The result is almost always a more candid relationship and even better, a heck of a lot more fun at work.

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