Losing an account, by David Hunt
I’m proud of our account-retention rate. It shows we are dedicated to partnerships, progress and working together to create the perfect solution for each project. It’s because of this that it’s even more disappointing when things don’t work out. Earlier this year, we lost an important account. Most disappointingly, the client was right; we could and should have been better. The team have a track record of success and I confidently back them for the future. So what went wrong?
I believe the plan was flawed from the outset. Like all good agencies, we identified and challenged the issues. As a senior team, we should have been stronger in arguing the case, but how far do you go? The easy answer would be to refuse the remit. But would we be perceived as cherry picking briefs, stepping aside when the going gets tough, and lacking commitment to our partners? Often, refusing an opportunity can be more challenging than winning one.
The team was theoretically correct, without doubt. On paper we had experience, expertise and capacity, but having watched the England football team, I am acutely aware that it takes more than just talented individuals. Chemistry is a critical component; it’s often referred to with regards to the agency/client interface but I’d argue it is just as important internally. We should have changed the team sooner. We have over 200 experts to call upon. Whilst a change of personnel is often negatively perceived, there was clearly a time and a place here that I missed.
Who was first to discuss the problem? Brutally, not us. Whilst I’m sure that we’re not alone in failing to identify and publicise a critical issue, it is my biggest learning of 2015. I want to be the best CEO at recognising problems, alongside recognising strengths.
Despite our previous loss being over two years ago, I’m convinced that complacency did not play apart. That said, due to our Northern soul, our first reaction is to brush ourselves down and come back fighting. We learnt a huge amount from our recent internal review, and developed a clear action plan as part of our programme of continuing improvement. Whilst I do not want a repeat of the recent event, we’re determined to take positives from the experience.
I recognise our strengths, but after 15 years in the agency, I’m sure I’m biased. As such, it was hugely reassuring to see the tremendous results of our independent client relationship audit where we asked 30 of our clients for their feedback.
- 100% think that Havas Lynx are pretty responsive or very responsive
- 100% would recommend Havas Lynx
- 100% would envisage working together over the next twelve months
I’m sure we’ll lose other accounts, but certainly not by making the same mistakes.