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Boxing With Clients

Published: December 16, 2014

Author: Todd Mintz

“Mission is important to culture because it helps us all understand ‘why we fight.”…David Rodnitzky, The 3Q Culture Manifesto
Our CEO, David Rodnitzky, just published our Company Culture Manifesto, which I encourage you to read if you’ve not done so already. As an agency, we’ve followed these precepts for a long time…even if they were never spelled out so explicitly before now. However, such a collection of ideas wouldn’t mean that much if we didn’t act upon them. Much earlier in my 3Q career, I encountered some situations that required me to take up a skill that I wouldn’t have thought to be useful or relevant in an Agency Environment…but has served me very well in living up to the ideals that David just recently shared:

Though quiet by nature, I’m also very direct and can come across to others as a wee bit tough. During my early days at 3Q, I labored under the misapprehension that my natural persona had to be suppressed in an agency environment. I thought that I needed to interact with clients in the typical manner service professionals act with customers…not quite “Yes, sir; no, ma’am”, but trending in that direction.
However, I realized that being deferential was getting in the way of my effectiveness as an account manager. Furthermore, I felt I was perceived in a manner that was totally at odds with my personality.
So, I decided that, when necessary, I would not hesitate to “get in the ring”. When situations required me to, I began to box.
Now, “boxing” isn’t the same as “fighting”. Rather, it’s more the type of friendly sparring where the client and the agency have a disagreement over some aspect of the engagement and both parties feel passionately enough about their viewpoint in the matter to verbally spar as a vehicle for settling the conflict and moving on with the relationship.
This might sound heinous to you. In actuality, it’s quite healthy. Long-term agency-client relationships are never frictionless. Disagreements over tactics and strategy do occur from time to time and if they aren’t trivial, it’s critical they get talked through and resolved before any sort of flashpoint is reached.
However, sparring without the underlying commitment of both parties to the relationship is actually fighting and that’s not healthy. I am both passionate about customer service and delivering the best possible results to the clients we serve. If I get into a verbal dust-up with a client, I’m not actually sparring “against” the client…but sparring “for” the client since I would only take it to that level if we really believed that our course of action is to the client’s benefit and will improve their business.
Knowing that certain patterns in agency-client relationships repeat themselves., I will always “put the gloves on” if it would help prevent a client from going through a “déjà vu all over again” experience.

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