Welcome to a Quality Life – a new series for interactive agency leaders and owners who are committed to delivering the best quality of work to clients.
Quality Life is authored by me, Brett Turner, a former interactive agency owner (and former EVP at blast radius) who now serves as a Partner at QA Consultants.
In this first blog post, I discuss:
- The real reasons quality matters to agency leaders
- Why achieving quality on digital projects is elusive for agency leaders
- Actions that preserve client relationships and help you achieve required results
Why Quality Matters So Much to Agency Leaders
A few years ago, the Managing Partner at one of North America’s most prestigious interactive agencies confided in me that they were at a critical point in their business. They could either expand rapidly into new geographic regions or recalibrate their existing operations. The Managing Partner asked me what I thought he should do — given that I had built and grown successful digital agencies.
Agency Success is Built on Relationships and Results
After discussing their financials, their growth strategy, their competitive positioning, their service offering, their personnel – and consuming several dozen cups of coffee – together, we came to a practical business decision (which by the way was to re-calibrate). But, in so doing, we also unearthed something that all successful agencies have to resolve for themselves. Specifically, agency success hinges on sustaining two core competencies: 1) the ability to nurture healthy client relationships; and 2) the ability to deliver clients measurable results. What’s more, the foundation upon which an agency is able to consistently ‘live’ both of these competencies rests on its commitment to provide work with exceptional quality.
Relationships and Results Are Built on the Quality of Work
When you have a strong relationship with a client your work comes with a ‘halo’ that gets you over the ‘rough patches’ that occur naturally during client engagements – such as having to accommodate unpredictable or rapidly changing conditions. In that way, strong client relationships serve as a ‘safety net’. Similarly, when you deliver projects that achieve targets, your insights, out-of-the-box thinking, inventive creative, and hard work, are all validated.
But, consider for a moment if the quality of the work you deliver to your client is lower than they required (or expected). How many such instances do you think they will accept before the trust you’ve built over the years begins to erode? In reality, the answer depends on the importance that a client places on the project. After all, they’ve championed the project within their organization and its success is inextricably tied to their personal and professional reputation.
Quality is Evolving
Of course, what makes life challenging – and exciting – for interactive agency owners/leaders is that clients’ expectations for quality are an elusive and fast-moving target. That’s because digital projects have become increasingly complex. For example, it used to be simple enough to make sure that a mobile website functioned properly. After all, when you have to build such a site and it only needs to be compatible with a couple of operating systems on a handful of devices, the time, effort – and related risk – involved in ensuring it functions properly is minimal. But now clients ask agencies to build and manage digital campaigns that involve multiple websites, mobile sites, interactive apps, landing pages, databases, and dashboards. Furthermore, dozens of devices and operating versions have to be taken into consideration.
At the same time, agencies are being pressed by clients to produce digital campaigns and properties faster and less expensively than ever. And, that’s despite the fact that as campaigns increase in complexity, the risk of underperformance increases as well as risks associated with lack of performance. Finally, clients’ fail to understand how the complexity of their campaigns exponentially increases the possibility of unreliable/poor performance.
With those realities in place, here are two actions that you can take to ensure that the quality of the digital products/campaigns you produce preserve your client relationship and help you achieve the required results:
- Spend time with your client to define the quality parameters for each digital property/campaign. Clients appreciate being enlightened about what’s involved in ensuring the quality of their initiatives. Doing so also demonstrates to them that you and your team are truly committed to their success.
- Ask your QA team (in-house or external) to provide you with a plan that outlines how they will ensure your client work achieves the quality that is required/expected
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Sr. Partner, Head of Sales/Mktg