The post-pandemic toolbox: driving better client-agency relationships through cloud collaboration

The Drum 07 Apr 2021 12:21

The best agencies have always operated in a sort of pseudo crisis -- a make-believe deadline or last-last minute client request. So, when a real global crisis did come along, it is no surprise that agencies led the charge for new ideas, ways of working, and tools. That is not to say agencies did not struggle, but rather they were fast to adapt, engineering new ways of collaborating with clients through the cloud.

These were among the findings of a Dropbox-sponsored panel of senior executives in IT and marketing on creativity and cloud collaboration at The Drum’s recent Digital Transformation Festival. Panellists further explored how, as we edge closer to another shift: the return to ‘normal’, agencies and their clients must again adapt by deciding which pandemic processes are for keeps and which were just Band-Aid solutions. It is those agencies that strike the right balance which will be well-positioned to form even tighter bonds with their clients in the future.

The changing nature of client relationships

The answer has been a little surprising, as Liz Roche, general manager and chief strategy officer at Havas CX Helia, observed, “In uncertain times, clients are leaning on agencies for more direction, often asking what other clients are doing or saying about new, unexpected challenges.”

Agencies are using collaborative tech to strengthen this position. The ability to share large files and content through collaboration tools like Dropbox is helping creative agencies and clients edit and review work faster -- even with large files and limited bandwidth. And, communication tools like Slack are keeping channels open and transparent so the right messages get to the right person.

Flexibility is leading to more opportunity

At a time when, as Alex Wares, managing director at Transmission, put it, “clients aren’t looking to find new partners, they’re looking to consolidate the partners they already work with and help them in specific areas” this is a huge opportunity for agencies to demonstrate new capabilities, expand what they offer to clients, and tighten the working relationship.

The risk of trying new things is lower than ever. “On a pitch, you’re not making impulsive and expensive tech decisions that might come back to haunt you. If it doesn’t work, you can drop it and move on to the next tool.”, said John Scrivener, managing director at Abbeycomp IT Solutions.

Just like client relationships, team relations have been through a feeling-out process throughout the lockdown.

“Agencies have traditionally been ‘work hard, play hard’ environments with high pressure to deliver,” continued Wares. “But, the pandemic has made them ‘work hard, play never’. There's been a relentless pace and requirement to deliver without any of the good stuff like shared creativity and collaborating with workmates.”

Bringing your clients into these collaboration tools too improves the relationship on both sides. It transforms the feeling of a two-sided client-agency relationship into the feeling of a single team working towards a unified goal.

The way we operate may evolve but exactly how is up to each agency. Some agencies will adapt and emerge as new, super-flexible collaboration machines while others will return to their previous practices.

  • Andy Wilson, Director of Media, Dropbox
  • Alex Wares, UK Managing Director, Transmission
  • John Scrivener, Managing Director, Abbeycomp IT Solutions
  • Liz Roche, General Manager and Chief Strategy Officer, Havas CX Helia
  • Rebecca Stewart, Trends Editor, The Drum at The Drum’s Digital Transformation Festival

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DropboxLiz RocheHavas CX HeliaAndy Wilson
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