Account Management

Have any account folks here ever snapped back at a difficult or snappy/rude client?

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I sure have. Also depends on the dynamic of relationship. Generally, I can take the shit, but when it, unjustly, goes after members of my team - regardless of department, I will scorch the earth. Life is too short to deal with assholes. Protect your team. Manage chaos. But don’t be a doormat. In my history of clients, I can think of only 1-2 who didn’t appreciate pushback (and sometimes heated). A good relationship allows you to work through the highs and lows. That can be tough to cultivate. But it will be what helps you stand out among your departmental peers.

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I wouldn’t say Ive snapped bc that wouldn’t have the desired effect ... Ive found silence then a firm (almost harsh) measured response which might include telling them their reaction is not appropriate or that we ask the rest of the people in the room to leave so we can speak privately tends to do the job. I’ve definitely had clients not like being forced to acknowledge they are in the wrong ... there are so many politics at play which you’ll need to consider to respond in a way that doesn’t jeopardize your job. Good luck... Account mgmt is brutal

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pushing *back

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No, but have certainly put myself on mute to scream in agony. But seriously, empathy really does help. Most clients are reasonable humans when you know what they are up against (ignorant executive boards, excruciatingly democratic organizations etc etc). It does sometimes take some digging (and god willing, mutual transparency!) but you can usually figure out what’s motivating any conversation you have.

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Yes. “Let’s stop right there. You want respect, you give respect. No one, not even my mother talks to me that way. So we can either work together or I get up and walk away right now.” He was a junior client and someone needed to check him before he got out of control. 🤷🏽‍♀️

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Never, ever. And I’ve had some very rude clients. You have to take the higher ground and control the situation, even if a client is overly emotional. The best course of action is to try to calm the situation down and take the convo to a private forum, then talk through the situation to understand the genesis.

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The client snapped. I held my ground and stared at him like he was a child having a tantrum. He threatened to get me fired, stomped to his office, slammed the door. I kept my job. He was gone later that same day.

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Yes I’ve had some fierce standoffs with a few clients over the years. You obviously want to build a trusting, collaborative relationship with all of your clients, and there’s certainly risks involved in pushing/punching back with a client. However, I think you also learn that there are certain personalities (namely bully-like types) that actually end up having more respect for you and your team when you push back in a critical moment. (Or they will sense weakness and keep pushing harder.) A good agency leadership team will hopefully have your back - they all say they want you to fight for great creative, and unfortunately there are some rare moments where it’s bit like a fight to level the playing field with a client.

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Also working at Innocean has to make it even harder, as doesn’t Hyundai own you?

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I’ve lost it with 2 clients that I can think of. Account management folks freaked while it was happening (I’m a media guy and was in a full service agency). Both ended up being among the best and strongest relationships of my career. They came around to understanding my point of view and respected me for having a spine. Still, it’s not recommended.

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Snap back, no. Describing in great detail the many many ways they are wrong and how they are wrong in politest way possible, yes.

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